Breaking Bad? Gangs, masculinities and murder in Trinidad

Adam Baird, Matthew Bishop, Dylan Kerrigan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)
    105 Downloads (Pure)


    The murder rate in Port of Spain, Trinidad, rose dramatically around the turn of the millennium, driven overwhelmingly by young men in gangs in the city’s poor neighborhoods. The literature frequently suggests a causal relationship between gang violence and rising transnational drug flows through Trinidad during this period. However, this is only part of a complex picture and misses the crucial mediating effect of evolving male identities in contexts of pronounced exclusion. Using original data, this article argues that historically marginalized “social terrains” are particularly vulnerable to violence epidemics when exposed to the influence of transnational drug and gun trafficking. When combined with easily available weapons, contextually constructed male hegemonic orders that resonate with the past act as catalysts for contemporary gang violence 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. We argue that contemporary gang culture is a historically rooted, contextually legitimated, male hegemonic street project in the urban margins of Port of Spain.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)632-657
    Number of pages26
    JournalInternational Feminist Journal of Politics
    Issue number4
    Early online date15 Jun 2021
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Jun 2021


    This article was based on the research project Breaking Bad: How Transnational Drug Trafficking Creates Violent Masculinities in Local Caribbean Communities in Port of Spain, funded by the Partnership for Conflict, Crime, & Security Research program, supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).


    • Latin America and the Caribbean
    • Masculinities
    • drug trafficking
    • gangs
    • violence

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Gender Studies
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations


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