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Delinquent Realities: Christianity, Formality, and Security in the Americas

From: American Quarterly
Volume 63, Number 2, June 2011
pp. 337-365 | 10.1353/aq.2011.0014

Abstract

Abstract:

In response to growing postwar violence in Guatemala, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) cosponsored a reality television show in which ten former gang members were split into two teams, each of which was expected to build a sustainable business within Guatemala's formal economy. This competition modeled a kind of entrepreneurial self-fashioning that relied on Christian images and imperatives to "formalize" the show's reportedly delinquent participants. Based on several years of ethnographic fieldwork in Central and North America, this article explores how this Christian self-fashioning dramatizes an increasingly popular strategy for gang prevention and intervention throughout the Americas: regional security by way of good Christian living. Christianity today has become entangled with the geopolitics of American security, especially when it comes to efforts at gang abatement, linking the illegal activities of transnational criminal networks to the morality of individual men and women.



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