Breaking Bad: How transnational drug trafficking creates violent masculinities in local Caribbean communities in Port of Spain

PROJECT TEAM

Dr Adam Baird (PI)

PROJECT SUMMARY

To study the impact of transnational organised crime (TNOC) and drug-trafficking on poor urban communities in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. The city has seen crime and violence soar since the mid-1990s as the city became transhipment point in the illegal drugs trade. We address the impact of TNOC on vulnerable populations, culture and security by considering the ‘transnational-to-community’ impact of drug-trafficking. In particular, we consider how TNOC contributes to a number of male residents becoming increasingly violent at a micro level, unpacking the gender dynamics of violence, such as sexual violence against women and why 92% of homicide victims are men. We ask: How do relatively benign ‘corner kids’ turn into violent gang members? What are the gendered dynamics of this violence? How can communities work with young men to insulate themselves from the negative impact and violence generation of TNOC?

This project uses masculinities as an interpretive lens and draws upon scholars across the disciplines of Peace Studies, Cultural Anthropology, and International Relations. The methodology is rooted in Trinidadian ‘Spoken Word’ traditions, and art and music, to grasp how male identity, culture, community violence and TNOC intersect.

Co-Investigators are Dr. Matthew Bishop, University of Sheffield and Dr. Dylan Kerrigan, University of West Indies, Trinidad.

Project partners are United Nations Development Programme, Trinidad & Tobago MCO and an international NGO specialising in masculinities, Promundo. 

PROJECT IMPACT

First, ‘community level impact’ will be sought through Action Research using Spoken Word, art and music workshops. Our workshops are designed to not only generate data, they also aim to empower local participants to resist the impact of TNOC and drug-trafficking on their communities, using their own knowledge, capacities and experiences of dealing with problems in their own settings; and to generate ways of reducing local men’s violence whilst promoting awareness around gender based violence.

We aim to consolidate a network of community members committed to building human security from below and link them to state security providers, the University of West Indies, and local UNDP offices to create a flow of knowledge to influence ongoing security policies that impact upon their communities. We envision that once opened, such channels of communication will be self-sustainable.

Second, ‘policy, advocacy, and programming impact’ will be supported by our strategic partnerships with UNDP, the NGO Promundo, and our PIs track record of turning research into practical violence reduction intervention programs with UNDP. The UNDP interfaces with high level policy makers in Trinidadian state and government sectors and the international donor community, therefore they are well placed strategically. Promundo is a leading NGO working on masculinities. They have significant reach in international policy circles and will be supporting our workshops and the dissemination of the project research.

Third, the project will serve as a launch-pad for future bids for violence prevention projects with a focus on masculinities based on our findings and recommendations.