Urban Violence

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

My most recent research project (under development) 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 ways in which youth are invariably framed as a vulnerable ‘at risk’ social category and/or as a dangerous ‘risk’ group.

The project links with local research partners and related community organisations to provide a uniquely multi-disciplinary, 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 my approach to the study of atrocities, it draws extensively on fieldwork interviews with gang-members and perpetrators of violence themselves.

Included in the planned output of this project is a feature-length documentary following the lives of four individuals as they navigate day-to-day challenges in each city.

Preliminary scoping and early fieldwork has been conducted regularly since 2016, with the initial support of a King’s College London Social Science and Public Policy Faculty Network Grant (£8,650). Applications for funding to support the project for two years are being finalised for consideration in 2018.


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


Video: Brief presentation of thinking behind project and some of the exaggerations around risks of urban growth at our annual King’s Engaged in Africa conference, 25 Jan 2018 (my presentation from 08:08).

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