Gangs occupy a key position in the global imaginary of violence, widely perceived and represented as primary sources of brutality and insecurity. This can be related to the fact that they are one of a small number of truly global phenomena, found in almost every society across both time and space. At the same time, however, the phenomenon can vary significantly in form, dynamics, and consequences. While there have been many insightful studies of gangs, the overwhelming majority have focused on a single group or location, and we still lack a proper sense of what kinds of gang dynamics might be general, and which ones are specific to particular times and places. This presentation will lay out an agenda for research through which to develop a systematic comparative investigation of global gang dynamics, to better understand why they emerge, how they evolve over time, whether they are associated with particular urban configurations, how and why individuals join gangs, and what impact this has on their potential futures.
About the Speaker:
Dennis Rodgers is a Research Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. His research focuses on issues relating to the dynamics of conflict and violence in cities in Latin America (Nicaragua, Argentina) and South Asia (India). He was recently awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant for a research programme on “Gangs, Gangsters, and Ganglands: Towards a Global Comparative Ethnography” exploring gang dynamics in Nicaragua, South Africa, and France (2019-2023).