Urban Violence

Youth at Risk/Youth as Risk:
Global Responses to Urban Violence

My current research explores various issues related to urban violence, youth marginality, and the crime-conflict nexus across four cities: Cape Town (South Africa), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Freetown (Sierra Leone) and London (UK).

In particular, it examines responses to violence in each context, ranging from securitised and criminal justice-centred interventions, to public health-centred interventions. It identifies and critiques the often contradictory ways in which youth are framed as both a vulnerable ‘at risk’ social category and as a dangerous source of risk.

My work links with local research partners and community organisations to provide a in-depth comparative micro-level analysis of the various factors shaping urban and gang violence, and by extension, the success or otherwise of interventions designed to reduce violence. Following the same approach as my study of civil war atrocities, this research places emphasis on extended fieldwork and interviews with gang-members and perpetrators of violence themselves.

Fieldwork has been conducted regularly since 2016, including nine months of field research in South Africa, Sierra Leone, and Brazil in 2017-2018, and a further four months in Sierra Leone in 2019-2020. Ongoing research during Covid-19 has been conducted via WhatsApp and through coordination with local research partners.   

The ongoing project is the basis for six forthcoming journal articles and a book-project that explores marginalised youth and urban violence through a comparative lens. I am also currently shooting a documentary in collaboration with WAYout in Sierra Leone, filmed and co-produced with former street youth.

Initial support for this project was provided by a King’s College London
Social Science and Public Policy Faculty Network Grant (£8,650). I lead a distinct British Academy-funded project on youth marginality and street-gangs in Sierra Leone, working closely with Professor Ibrahim Abdullah (Fourah Bay College, Freetown).

 

Header image ©Fernando Frasão/Agência Brasil: Military operation in Rocinha favela, 22 September. 2017.