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Summary of Renegade Dreams: Living through Injury in Gangland Chicago – 1st Edition
From publisher University of Chicago Press:
Inner city communities in the US have become “junkyards of dreams,” to quote Mike Davis–wastelands where gangs package narcotics to stimulate the local economy, gunshots occur multiple times on any given day, and dreams of a better life can fade into the realities of poverty and disability. Laurence Ralph lived in such a community in Chicago for three years, conducting interviews and participating in meetings with members of the local gang which has been central to the community since the 1950s. Ralph discovered that the experience of injury, whether physical or social, doesn’t always crush dreams into oblivion; it can transform them into something productive: renegade dreams. The first part of this book moves from a critique of the way government officials, as opposed to grandmothers, have been handling the situation, to a study of the history of the historic “Divine Knights” gang, to a portrait of a duo of gang members who want to be recognized as “authentic” rappers (they call their musical style “crack music”) and the difficulties they face in exiting the gang. The second part is on physical disability, including being wheelchair bound, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among heroin users, and the experience of brutality at the hands of Chicago police officers. In a final chapter, “The Frame, Or How to Get Out of an Isolated Space,” Ralph offers a fresh perspective on how to understand urban violence. The upshot is a total portrait of the interlocking complexities, symbols, and vicissitudes of gang life in one of the most dangerous inner city neighborhoods in the US. We expect this study will enjoy considerable readership, among anthropologists, sociologists, and other scholars interested in disability, urban crime, and race.
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