Violence and Crime in Latin America: Representations and Politics

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Gema Santamaría, David Carey
University of Oklahoma Press, Feb 21, 2017 - Social Science - 336 pages

According to media reports, Latin America is one of the most violent regions in the world—a distinction it held throughout the twentieth century. The authors of Violence and Crime in Latin America contend that perceptions and representations of violence and crime directly impact such behaviors, creating profound consequences for the political and social fabric of Latin American nations.

Written by distinguished scholars of Latin American history, sociology, anthropology, and political science, the essays in this volume range from Mexico and Argentina to Colombia and Brazil in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, addressing such issues as extralegal violence in Mexico, the myth of indigenous criminality in Guatemala, and governments’ selective blindness to violent crime in Brazil and Jamaica. The authors in this collection examine not only the social construction and political visibility of violence and crime in Latin America, but the justifications for them as well. Analytically and historically, these essays show how Latin American citizens have sanctioned criminal and violent practices and incorporated them into social relations, everyday practices, and institutional settings. At the same time, the authors explore the power struggles that inform distinctions between illegitimate versus legitimate violence.

Violence and Crime in Latin America makes a substantive contribution to understanding a key problem facing Latin America today. In its historical depth and ethnographic reach, this original and thought-provoking volume enhances our understanding of crime and violence throughout the Western Hemisphere.

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List of Illustrations
Extralegal Violence and Its Justifications
Public Opinion and Extralegal Violence
Military Leadership through the Moral
Police Use of Force and Social Consensus in Buenos Aires
Constructing Crime
Discourse Statistics and
Visibility and Violence after Dark in
The Politics of Making Violence Visible
Extralegal Violence in an Eastern Guatemalan Town
Criminal Visibility and Violence in Rio
The Politics of Violence Control in Latin America
Apocalypse Now?
Works Cited
List of Contributors

The Criminalization of Dissent

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About the author (2017)

Gema Santamaría is Assistant Professor in the Department of International Studies at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México in Mexico City. She has served as a visiting fellow at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies and as a consultant for the United Nations Development Program.

David Carey Jr. holds the Doehler Chair in History at Loyola University and is author of several books, including I Ask for Justice: Maya Women, Dictators, and Crime in Guatemala and Engendering Mayan History: Kaqchikel Women as Agents and Conduits of the Past.