6821 - Building Security Consciousness in Contexts of Chronic Violence: Challenging Paradigms and Policies through Participatory Research

The present crisis of chronic violence in many parts of Latin America and the security responses are major research topics for Latin Americanists today. They raise, however, serious problems for the field researcher. Security studies has not been known for its emphasis on field research. This is not necessarily due to the risks and dangers, but to the fact that the field is heavily influenced by policy and academic paradigms and apriori assumptions rather than grounded research or the voices of those experiencing insecurity. This failure to take on board the lived experience of people living in chronic violence contexts means that such locations are often stigmatised and it becomes easy for the State to make claims about the solutions it offers, solutions which often reproduce violence and insecurity. This paper acknowledges the many practical difficulties of changing the way research on violence and security is undertaken, but it argues that a first step is to shift the epistemological terrain and think about the meaning of security in a new way, as a public good which enables participation free from fear (Abello Colak & Pearce, 2009). Violence must be understood also, as plural and subject to multiple mechanisms of reproduction. Secondly, we begin to see the people living in regions of chronic violence and insecurity as actors and subjects who need to be brought into the debate about potential solutions. Generating a security consciousness amongst victims of insecurity would aim to build with those victims a capacity to articulate approaches to public security policy which tackle some of the underlying dynamics rather than quick and authoritarian solutions. This paper explores two contexts of violence in Latin America, Monterrey in Mexico and Huehuetenango in Guatemala to ask how feasible is it to work with victims of chronic violence/insecurity to build new understandings and policy approaches.

Keywords: participatory research, security consciousness, security approaches

Author: Pearce, Jenny (University of Bradford, United Kingdom/Ver Königr)


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