with Christina Jerne, Centre for Global Criminology, Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen.
Part of Autumn Term seminar series.
‘Augmented reality’ refers to a mediated environment that adds some element to human experience of the world, without isolating the body in a particular space for a fixed duration, like in the case of ‘virtual reality’. In this paper, I discuss gang life as a particular type of augmented reality. This has little to do with the digital elements that are usually associated to the term, but more broadly with materials (e.g. weapons, uniforms) and collective practices (e.g. martial arts entrainment, turf wars) that enhance the bodies in the group, in a manner that ultimately keeps the collective compact. Indeed, being part of a gang in many instances pertains to activities that revolve around alterations of speed. Through an ethnographic study of a gang based in Copenhagen, Denmark, I trace instances of acceleration and deceleration in the collective life of the gang. I conclude by reflecting on the implications that a non-representational (Thrift 2008) understanding of gangs might have for designing preventive measures, which currently tend to focus on making these bodies more docile via interventions that structure their time (e.g. education/labour), or punitive measures, which restrict their movement through space (e.g. curfews/detention).
Image credit: by Lucrezia Carnelos on Unsplash
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