Jesus and the Gang

Youth Violence and Christianity in Urban Honduras

Jon Wolseth (Author)
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In urban Honduras, gun violence and assault form the pulsing backdrop of everyday life. This book examines the ways that young men and women in working-class neighborhoods of El Progreso, Honduras, understand and respond to gang and gun violence in their communities. Because residents rely on gangs and Catholic and Evangelical Protestant churches to mediate violence in their neighborhoods, these institutions form the fabric of society. While only a small fraction of youths in a neighborhood are active members of a gang, most young men must learn the styles, ways of communicating, and local geography of gangs in order to survive. Due to the absence of gang prevention programs sponsored by the government or outside non-governmental organizations, Catholic and Pentecostal churches have developed their own ways to confront gang violence in their communities. Youths who participate in church organizations do so not only to alter and improve their communities but also to gain emotional and institutional support. Offering firsthand accounts of these youths and how they make use of religious discourse, narrative practices, or the inscription of tattooed images and words on the body to navigate dangerous social settings, Jesus and the Gang is an unflinching look at how these young men turn away from perpetuating the cycle of violence and how Christianity serves a society where belonging is surviving. This book will appeal to readers with an interest in Latin American studies, urban anthropology, and youth studies. With its focus on the lives of young men and women, it’s also a compelling read for anyone interested in the plight of urban youth trying to escape the gang life.

"Jon Wolseth has collected a lot of interesting data under difficult circumstances, and he does a good job of presenting his ethnography in a manner that brings to life his informants and the threat of violence with which they live."—Roger Magazine, author of Golden and Blue Like My Heart: Masculinity, Youth, and Power Among Soccer Fans in Mexico City
Jesus and the Gang
176 Pages 6 x 9 x 0.6 Published: 2011 Paperback (9780816529087)
Ebook (9780816501243)

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