Refusing to cast gangs in solely criminal terms, Robert J. Duran, 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, Duran 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. Duran 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, Duran proposes new solutions to racial oppression that challenge and truly alter the conditions of gang life.
Robert J. Duran is an associate professor of criminal justice at New Mexico State University. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Colorado-Boulder and his research concerns modern-day racism and community resistance, from gang evolution and border surveillance to disproportionate minority contact and law enforcement shootings.
Acknowledgments Introduction 1. Researching Gangs as an Insider 2. The War on Gangs in the Post-Civil Rights Era 3. Racialized Oppression and the Emergence of Gangs 4. Demonizing Gangs Through Religious Righteousness and Suppressed Activism 5. Negotiating Membership for an Adaptation to Colonization: The Gang 6. The Only Locotes Standing: The Persistence of Gang Ideals 7. Barrio Empowerment as a Strategy for Transcending Gangs Conclusion Notes References Index