Breaking Bad? Gangs, masculinities and murder in Trinidad

Adam Baird, Matthew Bishop, Dylan Kerrigan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The murder rate in Port of Spain rose dramatically around the turn of the millennium, driven overwhelmingly by young men in gangs in the city’s poor neighbourhoods. The literature frequently suggests a causal relationship between rising transnational drug flows through Trinidad during this period and gang violence. However, this is only part of a complex picture that misses the crucial mediating effect of evolving male identities in contexts of pronounced exclusion. Using original data, this article argues that historically marginalised social terrains are particularly vulnerable to violence epidemics when exposed to the influence of transnational drug and gun trafficking. This is because when combined with easily available weapons, contextually constructed male hegemonic orders that resonate with the past, act as catalysts for the contemporary violence epidemic that coalesces gang members living within those milieus. The study contributes a new empirical body of work on urban violence in Trinidad and the first masculinities-specific analysis of this phenomenon. It adds to debates around hegemonic masculinities, namely how they are contextually legitimated in the urban margins of Port of Spain. These social terrains are deeply affected by historical poverty where recent inflows of guns and drugs has prompted the emergence of a distinct gang culture indicative of a new male hegemonic street project.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-press)
JournalInternational Feminist Journal of Politics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 9 Oct 2020


  • Masculinities
  • hegemonic masculinities
  • gangs
  • drug trafficking
  • violence
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Latin America and Caribbean

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