Urban Gun Crime from the Margins: An auto/biographical study of African Caribbean communities’ understanding and responses to ‘urban gun crime’

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    In this thesis I adopt an auto/biographical approach to explore the relationship between ‘race’ racialisation, racism and ‘urban gun crime’ (‘UGC’). I specifically focus on the views and experiences of community activists from African Caribbean communities (ACC) in two localities in the West Midlands. The auto/biographical approach reflects a central motivation for this focus: a concern about the normalisation and popular usage of the term ‘UGC’ within political and media discourse and the limited attention given to how it reproduces specific racialised notions of the Black criminal ‘other’ and their communities. Hence, despite, in the UK ‘UGC’ being put forward as a generic term to capture illegal possession and use of firearms arms (Silvestri, et al., 2009; Hallsworth and Silverstone, 2009), it is indelibly linked to Black communities, more specifically to young Black men, who are characterised as workless, fatherless and violent. I was concerned about how this image contributes to a specific understanding and a dominant conceptualisation that informs policy responses underway across a number of inner-city communities (Wood, 2010; Young, 2010; Joseph and Gunter, 2011). In the UK limited attention has been afforded to understanding how ‘race,’ racism and a process of racialisation are implicated in this specific construction of ‘UGC’ and ever present in terms of how they dominate the initiatives put forward (Joseph and Gunter, 2011). Utilising critical ethnography, my research presents an insider understanding of ‘UGC’, informed by meanings and the actions uncovered from men and women who, like me, share a racialised identity and genealogical link to the Caribbean. The empirical data is analysed through a Black feminist theoretical framework enabling an intersectional approach, which examines ‘race’ alongside social divisions such as gender, class and differences informed by religious belief. The research uncovered a number of insights
    related to ACC understanding and responses to ‘UGC’, illuminating the systemic failures that arise as a result of the unwillingness of the state and others in positions of power to consider alternative ways of understanding the relationship between ACC and ‘UGC’.
    The thesis sheds light on the ongoing attempt by ACC for self-definition and to fight racism and the challenges and tensions that exist between Black community organisations and statutory bodies. Thus this thesis offers a unique critical understanding about ‘UGC’ from the margins.
    Date of Award2014
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorGurnam Singh (Supervisor), Paul Bywaters (Supervisor) & Gayle Letherby (Supervisor)

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