In Guatemala, within the space of a few decades, a civil war largely marked by state-sponsored violence has made way for a democracy in which violence diffused into the hands of the masses and gained an increasingly criminal and urban character. Much of the violence roots in poverty, inequality and exclusion. This ethnographic research explores the way people in Guatemala City give shape and meaning to their lives in the midst of high levels of violence and structural violence. It centralizes around five narratives, the protagonists of which all belong to a different level of the city’s hierarchical spectrum, ranging from a group of street people to a wealthy family with a bodyguard at its disposal.

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R. van Swaaningen (René) , R.H.J.M. Staring (Richard)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus School of Law

Peeters, T. (2021, November 19). The Unseen: Withdrawal and the social order of violence in Guatemala City. Retrieved from