Cartografies of Culture and Violence: Gangs, Grouping and the Hip-Hop Movement

“This thesis presents a study on the relationship between culture and violence within the realm of youngsters’ experiences found in poor areas of Fortaleza. It should be noticed that it is not properly an investigation of violence as an occurrence, but as a straight observation of actual dynamics of social practices and social relations. The central challenge of the investigation was to identify the imaginary world of gangs with relation to violence and their cultural background. The first incursions in search of youngsters’ dynamics within the field of violence itself aimed at identifying tracks which would lead to occurrences of meaningful cultural maps within the environment of targeted areas. The major issue of the observation and construction of an object of investigation was the following: What it is considered violence by poor youngsters who have joined gangs and groupings? How do machinations of violence are articulated and especially which meaning do they take? What is the gangs’ aim when they point to violence-dominated area in the city? What cultural references give support to violence and create the gangs experiences question. The methodological path of this study followed and ethnographic script that was mounted from a previous mapping of the field and a planning for connections and meetings with several territories of the city. Those local mediations were almost always arranged by representatives of “possessions” within the organized hip-hop movement. By the end of the research a specific group (The Courtyard Grouping) was selected as ethnographic landscape. In this fashion, while the research developed, so slowly grew the investigation’s major objective. The gang is the breeding grounds for dynamics related to meetings and actions of groups; it does not have an autonomous existence. The gang is an occurrence, a typical spellbinding manifestation; it reveals itself by action, it names itself according to repetition. Many times, the gang is the other’s perception about a set of juvenile practices. It is at the time of manifestation that youngsters attract the eye of the public in order to translate their social inscription and imprint their status as members of a gang. As a conclusion, it is advanced that violence becomes a voiceless dimension within the discourse produced in the interior of the gang itself; its public manifestation ends up gaining a positive evaluation and establishing differences. It is at this time that those residents of banned areas register their existence, make public their social exclusion grouping and challenge society in search of a new vision and research of their condition”.

Keywords: Youth, Poor Areas, Tattoo, Police.

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Glória Maria dos Santos Diógenes