Violence and Resilience in Latin American Cities

Edited by Kees Koonings and Dirk Kruijt


Featuring original fieldwork across a broad array of case studies, this cutting edge volume focuses on questions not only of crime and insecurity, but also of Latin American cities' ability to creatively and productively respond to these problems.

Why are Latin American cities amongst the most violent in the world? Over the past decades Latin America has not only become the most urbanised of the regions of the so-called global South, it has also been the scene of the urbanisation of poverty and exclusion. Overall regional homicides rates are the highest in the world, a fact closely related to the spread and use of firearms by male youths, who are frequently involved in local and translocal forms of organised crime. In response, governments and law enforcements agencies have been facing mounting pressure to address violence through repressive strategies, which in turn has led to a number of consequences: law enforcement is often based on excessive violence and the victimisation of entire marginal populations. Thus, the dynamics of violence have generated a widespread perception of insecurity and fear.

Featuring much original fieldwork across a broad array of case studies, this cutting edge volume focuses on questions not only of crime, insecurity and violence but also of Latin American cities’ ability to respond to these problems in creative and productive ways.

Author Bio

Kees Koonings is associate professor of development studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences at Utrecht University. He is also professor of Brazilian studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Amsterdam and attached to CEDLA (the Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation).

Dirk Kruijt is professor emeritus of development studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences at Utrecht University. He has published on poverty and informality, military governments, guerrilla movements in Central America, and war and peace in Latin America. 

Table of Contents

  • 1. Urban Fragility and Resilience in Latin America: Conceptual Approaches and Contemporary Patterns - Kees Koonings and Dirk Kruijt
  • 2. Exclusion, Violence and Resilience in Five Latin American Megacities: A Comparison of Buenos Aires, Lima, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo - Dirk Kruijt and Kees Koonings
  • 3. Caracas: From Heaven's Branch to Urban Hell - Roberto Briceño-León
  • 4. Bogotá: Countering Violence with Urban Government - Alan Gilbert
  • 5. San Salvador: Violence and Resilience in Gangland - Wim Savenije and Chris van der Borgh
  • 6. San José: Urban Expansion, Violence and Resilience - Abelardo Morales Gamboa
  • 7. Kingston: Violence and Resilience - Rivke Jaffe
  • 8. Santo Domingo: Criminogenic Violence and Resilience - Lilian Bobea


‘Koonings, Krujit and their colleagues have established a new benchmark in the qualitative analysis of urban crime trends and their complex relationships to economic informality, corrupt policing, and neighborhood “resilience”.’
Mike Davis, author of Planet of Slums and Evil Paradises

‘Combining deep on-the-ground knowledge, clear writing, and balanced political and social analysis, this indispensable book throws new light on one of the most puzzling, and seemingly intractable issues of twenty first century Latin America.’
Javier Auyero, author of In Harm’s Way: The Dynamics of Urban Violence

‘An important collection that calls attention not only to the fracture and fragility of Latin American cities, but to their resilience in responding to endemic violence and inequality.'
Daniel Goldstein, author of Outlawed: Between Security and Rights in a Bolivian City

‘This volume makes a critical contribution to Latin American and Caribbean studies by providing a comprehensive discussion of the violence facing cities in the region and the ways that some cities have begun to develop successful responses.’
Enrique Desmond Arias, author of Drugs and Democracy in Rio de Janeiro

‘Koonings and Kruijt bring together expertise on urban violence in the cities of Central America, South America and the Caribbean to analyze both the contours of the violence and the forms of resilience which parallel it.’
Garth Myers, Trinity College Hartford


Publication Date: 15 November 2015
208 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781780324562
Hardback: 9781780324579
eBook ePub: 9781780324593
eBook PDF: 9781780324586
eBook Kindle: 9781780324609

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