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Reading: Parallel Citizenship: Southern Californian Latino Gangs and their Concept of Citizenship

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Scholarly Article

Parallel Citizenship: Southern Californian Latino Gangs and their Concept of Citizenship

Author:

Tiffany Virgin

Georgetown University, US
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Abstract

For Salvadorans who relocated to the United States, the marginalization imposed by American society, the victimization enacted by Mexican gangs, and their negative experience with El Salvador’s practice of citizenship brought them to create the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and modify 18th Street gangs in the neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Living on the fringes of society, they were kept from attaining the social, civil, and economic benefits of a liberal democratic model of citizenship. This paper claims that, in order to survive, they took it upon themselves to create a parallel model of citizenship, combining anarchism with “citizenship as agency” under the gang structure. Following Philip Oxhorn’s analysis of models of citizenship, this study examines how Salvadoran refugees came to create such alternative citizenship in the framework of the MS-13 and 18th Street gangs. Analysis asserts that the structure and development of membership in the gangs is not a coincidence, but rather a response to their marginalization, negative experience of state citizenship, and their participation in public arenas modeled as an extension of social contracts. Understanding the views of these, now transnational, gangs in terms of citizenship can aid policymakers and Central American governments as they approach these groups, eliminating violence and promoting development.
How to Cite: Virgin, T., (2017). Parallel Citizenship: Southern Californian Latino Gangs and their Concept of Citizenship. Middle Atlantic Review of Latin American Studies. 1(1), pp.97–116. DOI: http://doi.org/10.23870/marlasv1n1tv
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Published on 24 Mar 2017.
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