An Insider's Journey
Refusing to cast gangs in solely criminal terms, Robert J. Durán, a former gang member turned scholar, recasts such groups as an adaptation to the racial oppression of colonization in the American Southwest. Developing a paradigm rooted in ethnographic research and almost two decades of direct experience with gangs, Durán completes the first-ever study to follow so many marginalized groups so intensely for so long, revealing their core characteristics, behavior, and activities within two unlikely American cities.
Durán spent five years in Denver, Colorado, and Ogden, Utah, conducting 145 interviews with gang members, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and other relevant individuals. From his research, he constructs a comparative outline of the emergence and criminalization of Latino youth groups, the ideals and worlds they create, and the reasons for their persistence. He also underscores the failures of violent gang suppression tactics, which have only further entrenched these groups within the barrio. Encouraging cultural activists and current and former gang members to pursue grassroots empowerment, Durán proposes new solutions to racial oppression that challenge and truly alter the conditions of gang life.
Robert J. Durán's brilliantly intuitive work covers the literature in the field, and then quickly surpasses it. Having lived the 'life in two cities,' he reveals the genesis of gangs as a challenge to America's structural inequality. If for nothing else, Durán should be read for his eloquent history of racism and society's role in gang formation, an uncomfortable analysis for society's Pontius Pilates. Durán should be appreciated for his insight, praised for his clarity, and lauded for his personal and intellectual courage.
Ernesto Vigil, author of The Crusade for Justice: Chicano Militancy and the Government's War on Dissent
Gang Life in Two Cities is a masterful insider perspective and analysis of gangs, policing, and criminal justice, setting a new standard for research and scholarship in the field. A must read for anyone interested in gangs, gang diversion, and criminal justice.
Alfredo Mirande, University of California, Riverside
Gang Life in Two Cities should be required reading in college courses discussing gangs. Anyone interested in gangs and how society is responding to them should read it, too.
Unique and refreshing... [Durán] offers a rich, clear discussion of both the context and meaning of gang participation.
AcknowledgmentsIntroduction1. Researching Gangs as an Insider2. The War on Gangs in the Post-Civil Rights Era3. Racialized Oppression and the Emergence of Gangs4. Demonizing Gangs Through Religious Righteousness and Suppressed Activism5. Negotiating Membership for an Adaptation to Colonization: The Gang6. The Only Locotes Standing: The Persistence of Gang Ideals7. Barrio Empowerment as a Strategy for Transcending GangsConclusionNotesReferencesIndex
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HONORABLE MENTION - 2014 Association for Humanist Sociology Book Award