Mittwoch, 15. Mai 2024, 17:00 - 18:30 iCal

Wednesday Seminar

Resilient Barrios: Criminal Governance and Intimacy in Medellin (Patrick Naef, University of Geneva)

Hörsaal C, Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie (NIG, 4. Stock)
Universitätsstraße 7, 1010 Wien


Criminal governance is defined as the regulation of social spaces and the control of illegal and legal markets by criminal organizations. A large corpus of work in criminology assumes it to be merely a rational and predatory regulatory dynamic. Very limited attention has been paid to the influence of the everyday practices and experiences of residents living under these regimes. Patrick Naef’s research draws on a decade of ethnographic fieldwork in Medellin’s most violent neighborhoods to explore how intimacies shape criminal governance. Exploring the practice of extortion, the resolution of conflict by criminal groups, and the organization of social activities by these structures, it shows how interpersonal relations and interactions, local knowledge and memories, help residents to navigate life in crime-ridden neighborhoods. It unveils a political economy where debts and privileges, kinship and friendship influence the domination of criminal actors, but it also shows how residents make sense of these violent contexts and develop strategies to optimize their security. By examining the ‘intimacy of criminal governance’, it reveals how violence is embedded in the social fabric of communities living at the urban margins of Colombia. Although the spectacular violence of homicides in Medellin has decreased over the last two decades, everyday violence such as extortion, forced displacement, domestic conflicts and human rights violations is still prevalent. Security in middle- and upper-class neighborhoods has undoubtedly improved, as has the safety of the growing flocks of tourists who visit the city every year. However, residents of marginalized neighborhoods continue to live in the midst of crime and uncertainty, conditions they often describe as ‘tense calm’.

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Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie


Hanna Vietze
Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie