Department of Sociology

Ethnography Workshop: Violence at the Urban Margins

Thu, April 4, 2013

Ethnography Workshop: Violence at the Urban Margins

April 4-5. Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies, The University of Texas at Austin.

Participants: Nancy Scheper-Hughes; Philippe Bourgois; Matthew Desmond; Alice Goffman; Dennis Rodgers; Randol Contreras; Polly Wilding; Cecilia Bali; Donna DeCesare; Verónica Zubillaga; Kevin O’Neill; Adam Baird; Javier Auyero.

The workshop will feature the research of scholars, from sociology and anthropology, whose ethnographic work offers significant insights into the complex ways in which interpersonal violence is shaping the lives of those living at the urban margins in contemporary North, Central, and South America.

Despite resemblances in theoretical approaches, ethnographic strategies, and substantive findings, scholars working on the United States and in Central and South America rarely engage in meaningful ways with each other’s work.

Participation in this event will serve as a unique opportunity to examine the similarities and differences in the causes and experiences of interpersonal violence in inner cities and black ghettos in the United States and in favelas, villas, comunas, colonias, barriadas, or barrios in Central and South America.

In almost every single country of the Latin American sub-continent, there is a palpable contradiction between the persistent and pervasive insecurity and violence that shapes daily life and the peace and equality that, after years of dictatorship and/or civil war, defined democratic promise. This workshop will lend further ethnographic detail to a trend identified by current scholarship on Latin America: urban violence is besieging many of the new democracies in the region, affecting the most disadvantage populations in disproportionate ways.

Scholarship on violence consistently show that lack of economic opportunities coupled with geographic isolation foster environments where criminal activity and interpersonal violence become pervasive. Most Latin American governments are experiencing a “left turn” and are placing the reduction of inequality and the alleviation of poverty at the center of public discourse and policy-making. The novel progressive consensus seems to suggest that citizenship (and democracy) cannot survive without the “social inclusion” of the masses of marginalized individuals that, according to the new dominant diagnosis, were cast aside by decades of neoliberal economic policies. Addressing what both moderate and radical governments in the sub-continent call the “drama of social exclusion” mandates the confrontation of the daily violence that has become a defining feature of the texture of hardship among the urban poor. Without the pacification of everyday life in marginalized communities, “social inclusion” is at risk of becoming an empty panacea. The workshop will bring together sociologists and anthropologists who will put the ethnographic microscope at work to explore the connections between inequality, violence, and democracy.


THURSDAY, April 4, 2013
9:00-9:15AM:                                                 COFFEE
9:15-9:30 AM                                                 WELCOME REMARKS AND INTRODUCTIONS by Javier Auyero
9:30-12:30 PM                                                SESSION 1    

·         When the Police are Knocking Your Door In
o   Alice Goffman (Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
§  Discussant: Jessica Dunning-Lozano, Graduate Student, Dept. of Sociology

·         Standpoint Purgatorio:  Fear and Danger in Studying the "Black and Brown" Tension in Los Angeles
o   Randol Contreras (Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, California State University, Fullerton)
§  Discussant: Kristine Kilanski, Graduate Student, Dept. of Sociology

·         The Soldier and the Thug
o   Matt Desmond (Assistant Professor of Sociology and of Social Sciences, Harvard University, Boston)
§  Discussant: Erika Grajeda , Graduate Student, Dept. of Sociology

12:30-2:00 PM                                                BREAK

2:00-4:00PM                                                   SESSION 2

·         The Moral Economy of Murder: From ‘Bare Life’ to ‘Bare Death’ in Gangland Nicaragua
o   Dennis Rodgers (Professor of Urban Social and Political Research, University of Glasgow)
§  Discussant: Pamela Neumann, Graduate Student, Dept. of Sociology

·         On Liberation: Crack, Christianity, and Captivity in Guatemala City
o   Kevin O'Neill (Assistant Professor in the Department for the Study of Religion and the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies, University of Toronto)
§  Discussant: Elizabeth Velasquez, Graduate Student, Dept. of Anthropology

FRIDAY, April 5
9:15-9:30 AM                                                 COFFEE

9:30-12:30 PM                                                SESSION 3

·         Non-Judicial Justice? Women's Strategies for Challenging Domestic Violence in Contexts of Chronic Urban Insecurity
o   Polly Wilding (Lecturer in Gender and International Development, University of Leeds)
§  Discussant: Katherine Jensen, Graduate Student, Dept. of Sociology

·         Duros and Gangland Girlfriends: Male Identity and Gang Socialization in Medellín
o   Adam Baird (Assistant Professor for the ‘Sustainable Urban Governance and Peace’ Master’s Program, UN University for Peace in Costa Rica)
§  Discussant: Jorge Derpic, Graduate Student, Dept. of Sociology

·         Chismosas y Alcahuetas: Being the mother of an emproblemado within the everyday violence of a Caracas barrio
Veronica Zubillaga (Professor in the Department of Behavioral Science and Technology, Universidad de Simón Bolívar, Venezuela)
o   Discussant: Jacinto Cuvi, Graduate Student, Dept. of Sociology

12:30-2:00 PM                                                BREAK

2:30-4:30 PM                                                  KEYNOTE SESSION

·         When Violence is the Rule -  Militarization  of Everyday Life
o   Nancy Scheper-Hughes (Professor of Medical Anthropology and Sociocultural Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley)

·         Cultivating Rage in the US Inner City:  Opening the Black Box of the Carceral-Services Mesh
o   Philippe Bourgois (Professor of Anthropology and Family and Community Medicine, University of Pennsylvania)

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  • Department of Sociology

    The University of Texas at Austin
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    CLA 3.306
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