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Research at St Andrews

Tilman Schwarze


Research overview

Tilman, who is currently a PhD student at the University of St Andrews, started to become interested in research on crime, violence and street gangs during his Bachelor degree in Politics. In his Bachelor dissertation, he analysed the Mérida Initiative for fighting organised crime in Mexico and Central America as an example of a Security Governance Arrangement, examining whether this initiative promotes the incorporation of non-state actors in the implementation of security mechanisms throughout this region. During his MLitt in International Security at the University of St Andrews, he focused on the role of identity formation and social capital within street gangs. In his MLitt dissertation, he examined the role of social capital over the life course of gang membership (onset, persistence, and desistance), and whether each of these steps is influenced by the ability to generate social capital.

His PhD project examines the diverse power processes that are at play in stigmatising and marginalising communities through certain forms of public representation. In particular, his project analyses the way the social space of a community from Chicago's South Shore is produced and altered through a public discourse that predominantly focuses on gang violence and crime. In this respect, it examines how the everyday life of community inhabitants is impacted by such a negative discourse, and how such a representation contributes to the socio-economic and cultural marginalisation of this community. Said examination incorporates a critical reading of Henri Lefebvre's theory of The Production of Space. Moreover, this project examines the connection between the representation of a community as gang-infected and violent-ridden and gentrification and displacement processes that have started to become important issues in the subject community on Chicago's South Side. Lastly, it examines the way community inhabitants resist such stigmatisation and marginalisation processes through grassroots activism, thereby demanding their right to the city.

Research Keywords: street gangs, social space, capitalism, neoliberalism, social capital, violence

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