Between Security and Rights in a Bolivian City


The Cultures and Practices of Violence

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Book Pages: 344 Illustrations: 9 photographs, 1 map Published: August 2012

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Latin American Studies > Andes, Native and Indigenous Studies

In Outlawed, Daniel M. Goldstein reveals how indigenous residents of marginal neighborhoods in Cochabamba, Bolivia, struggle to balance security with rights. Feeling abandoned to the crime and violence that grip their communities, they sometimes turn to vigilante practices, including lynching, to apprehend and punish suspected criminals. Goldstein describes those in this precarious position as "outlawed": not protected from crime by the law but forced to comply with legal measures in other areas of their lives, their solutions to protection criminalized while their needs for security are ignored. He chronicles the complications of the government's attempts to provide greater rights to indigenous peoples, including a new constitution that recognizes "community justice." He also examines how state definitions of indigeneity ignore the existence of marginal neighborhoods, continuing long-standing exclusionary practices. The insecurity felt by the impoverished residents of Cochabamba—and, more broadly, by the urban poor throughout Bolivia and Latin America—remains. Outlawed illuminates the complex interconnections between differing definitions of security and human rights at the local, national, and global levels.


“Daniel Goldstein has written an elaborate and rich ethnography of the ‘present absence’ of the Bolivian state in a marginal barrio in the city of Cochabamba. . . . In many ways, Goldstein’s book is a testimony to ethnography at its best: it elucidates large critical issues by way of meticulous attention to local contexts and dynamics.” — Anders Burman, Journal of Latin American Studies

“[A]stute and useful….[T]his book provides a thought-provoking examination of human rights, fear of crime, and the ways in which people create new forms of justice. Given that it addresses fear of and daily responses to crime, a central concern of many Latin Americans today, this book will be widely read by anthropologists as well as those interested in Latin America, inequality, and "post-neoliberalism." It should also be adopted in courses on criminal justice and inequality.” — Miriam Shakow, Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Outlawed presents a theoretical tour de force that draws the reader into complicating and questioning long-standing tropes of urban/rural, indigenous/civilized, and neoliberal/ communal that clearly continue to affect governmentality and everyday experiences of citizenship in contemporary Bolivia. As such, it is a must-read for scholars of the Andes, of neoliberal citizenship in all its manifestations, and—more importantly—for anyone concerned with the renewed scrutiny of security in the global south.” — Isabel M. Scarborough, Journal of Anthropological Research

“Although Outlawed is an ethnography based on fieldwork with participant observation, traditional ethnographic description occupies only about forty percent of the text. The remainder is roughly forty percent theory and engagement with other literature, and twenty percent discussion of the personal role of the anthropologist. Each of the three elements contributes something to make Outlawed a valuable… work.” — Gary Van Valen, The Latin Americanist

"Outlawed will undoubtedly inspire important debates on the place of 'engaged anthropology' in our discipline, while inadvertently showing that our scholarly production is often not as collaborative as our activism." — Ellen Moodie, American Ethnologist

“Through compelling, sensitive, and lyrically written ethnographic analyses, Goldstein takes up a number of key problems for contemporary anthropology. . . . After Outlawed, it is no longer possible to view the role of human rights as a dominant mode of contemporary world-making in the same way.” — Mark Goodale, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"In Outlawed, Daniel M. Goldstein tackles one of the most critical issues confronting Latin America today, namely, the insecurity experienced by numerous citizens who fear falling victim to theft, robbery, burglary, assault, rape, or homicide as they go about their daily lives. He proceeds in a smart way, by examining the Bolivian state's representations of violence, Bolivian citizens' experiences in a local neighborhood, and the notions of community justice and illegitimate violence that circulate locally, nationally, and internationally." — Susan Bibler Coutin, author of Nations of Emigrants: Shifting Boundaries of Citizenship in El Salvador and the United States

"This is a terrific work, lively and engaging. It adds to the anthropological understanding of the law in practice in several ways. First, the book demonstrates that while the state does not protect those in Cochabamba's poor urban settlements from crime, it is present in their lives as a set of onerous bureaucratic and legal requirements. Second, it challenges legal pluralist arguments that there is an entirely separate legality operating in city slums. It reveals the legal systems of the urban poor not as entirely separate from the state but as fractured conjunctures of state and other legalities. Third, the book emphasizes the creative ways—from vigilantism to selective reliance on state services and local leaders—that marginalized communities handle legal problems. Taken together, its arguments are a major contribution to the field." — Sally Engle Merry, author of Gender Violence: A Cultural Perspective


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Daniel M. Goldstein is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University. He is the author of The Spectacular City: Violence and Performance in Urban Bolivia and a coeditor of Violent Democracies of Latin America, both also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

1. Security, Rights, and the Law in Evo's Bolivia 1

2. Getting Engaged: Reflections on an Activist Anthropology 35

3. The Phantom State: Law and Ordering on the Urban Margins 77

4. Exorcising Ghosts: Managing Insecurity in Uhspa Uhspa 121

5. Community Justice and the Creative Imagination 167

6. Inhuman Rights? Violence at the Nexus of Rights and Security 203

7. An Uncertain Anthropology 239

Notes 257

References 281

Index 305
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5311-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5297-6
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