Living in the Shadow of Death: Gangs, Violence and Social Order in Urban Nicaragua, 1996–2002

Abstract

This article explores the dynamics of the youth gang (pandilla) phenomenon in contemporary urban Nicaragua, drawing on longitudinal ethnographic research conducted with a Managua pandilla in 1996–97 and in 2002. Pandillas and their violent practices are conceived as constituting a form of local social structuration in the face of broader conditions of high crime, insecurity, and socio-political breakdown. This form of ‘street-level politics’ changed significantly between 1997 and 2002, however, evolving from a form of collective social violence to a more individually and economically motivated type of brutality. This transformation is related to wider structural processes, which are described as coming together and precipitating a form of ‘social death’ in contemporary Nicaragua.

Citation

Journal of Latin American Studies (2006) 38 (2) 267-292 [doi: doi: 10.1017/S0022216X0600071X]

Living in the Shadow of Death: Gangs, Violence and Social Order in Urban Nicaragua, 1996–2002

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