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Space of Detention: The Making of a Transnational Gang Crisis between Los Angeles and San Salvador

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Space of Detention is a powerful ethnographic account and spatial analysis of the “transnational gang crisis” between the United States and El Salvador. Elana Zilberg seeks to understand how this phenomenon became an issue of central concern for national and regional security, and how La Mara Salvatrucha, a gang founded by Salvadoran immigrants in Los Angeles, came to symb Space of Detention is a powerful ethnographic account and spatial analysis of the “transnational gang crisis” between the United States and El Salvador. Elana Zilberg seeks to understand how this phenomenon became an issue of central concern for national and regional security, and how La Mara Salvatrucha, a gang founded by Salvadoran immigrants in Los Angeles, came to symbolize the “gang crime–terrorism continuum.” She follows Salvadoran immigrants raised in Los Angeles, who identify as—or are alleged to be—gang members and who are deported back to El Salvador after their incarceration in the United States. Analyzing zero-tolerance gang-abatement strategies in both countries, Zilberg shows that these measures help to produce the very transnational violence and undocumented migration that they are intended to suppress. She argues that the contemporary fixation with Latino immigrant and Salvadoran street gangs, while in part a product of media hype, must also be understood in relation to the longer history of U.S. involvement in Central America, the processes of neoliberalism and globalization, and the intersection of immigration, criminal, and antiterrorist law. These forces combine to produce what Zilberg terms “neoliberal securityscapes.”


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Space of Detention is a powerful ethnographic account and spatial analysis of the “transnational gang crisis” between the United States and El Salvador. Elana Zilberg seeks to understand how this phenomenon became an issue of central concern for national and regional security, and how La Mara Salvatrucha, a gang founded by Salvadoran immigrants in Los Angeles, came to symb Space of Detention is a powerful ethnographic account and spatial analysis of the “transnational gang crisis” between the United States and El Salvador. Elana Zilberg seeks to understand how this phenomenon became an issue of central concern for national and regional security, and how La Mara Salvatrucha, a gang founded by Salvadoran immigrants in Los Angeles, came to symbolize the “gang crime–terrorism continuum.” She follows Salvadoran immigrants raised in Los Angeles, who identify as—or are alleged to be—gang members and who are deported back to El Salvador after their incarceration in the United States. Analyzing zero-tolerance gang-abatement strategies in both countries, Zilberg shows that these measures help to produce the very transnational violence and undocumented migration that they are intended to suppress. She argues that the contemporary fixation with Latino immigrant and Salvadoran street gangs, while in part a product of media hype, must also be understood in relation to the longer history of U.S. involvement in Central America, the processes of neoliberalism and globalization, and the intersection of immigration, criminal, and antiterrorist law. These forces combine to produce what Zilberg terms “neoliberal securityscapes.”

37 review for Space of Detention: The Making of a Transnational Gang Crisis between Los Angeles and San Salvador

  1. 4 out of 5

    Naomi

    This book has a lot of interesting arguments and stories and personalities. But I feel like at bottom it was trying to make a political argument about the interactions between US policing and immigration policies and Salvadoran gangs, policing, and migration but doing so with sociological evidence, which didn't always fill the logical steps the way I'd've wanted.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Shelby Lillian Smith

  3. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Hawkinson

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jess

  5. 4 out of 5

    Christa

  6. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

  7. 4 out of 5

    Aria Overli

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Carcamo

  9. 5 out of 5

    John Bishop

  10. 4 out of 5

    Eric

  11. 4 out of 5

    Leah

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dayani

  13. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

  15. 4 out of 5

    Liam

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jay Z

  17. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Beach

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  21. 5 out of 5

    Heather

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kate

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cari

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kent

  25. 5 out of 5

    m.bryan.welton

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cullen Enn

  27. 4 out of 5

    Beth

  28. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rebeca

  30. 4 out of 5

    Grace

  31. 4 out of 5

    E

  32. 5 out of 5

    Jay Lowd

  33. 4 out of 5

    Camilla

  34. 4 out of 5

    Kerry

  35. 4 out of 5

    Tim

  36. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Park

  37. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

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