The Representations and Politics of Violence in Gang Memoirs
This chapter presents four decades in the history of street gang violence — the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s — in order to map the setting in which the narrators of street gang memoirs describe and justify their violent pasts. It explains that the main narrative action of the memoirs Always Running, Blue Rage, and Monster, revolves around tales of violence: the narrators’ violence toward other gang members and the violence committed against them by the authorities. The chapter further describes how, in 1960s California, violence was already embedded in the culture of the state, but it became more oppressive in Los Angeles in the succeeding decades. In the discussions of state power in Always Running, it notes that police brutality in the 1960s was not exclusively toward street gangs, but also toward Mexican political demonstrators.
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