Latin America is one of the world's fastest developing regions, yet also a hub area for crime and violence, where the links between social exclusion, inequality, fear and insecurity are clearly visible. This book explores the meaning of violence and insecurity in nine towns and cities in Colombia and Guatemala to create a framework of how and why daily violence takes place at the community level. It uses participatory urban appraisal methods to ask people about their own perceptions of violence as mediated by family, gender, ethnicity, and age. It develops a typology which distinguishes between the political, social, and economic violence that afflicts communities, and which assesses the costs and consequences of violence in terms of community cohesion and social capital. The featured towns and cities in Colombia are: Embudo, 14 de Febrero and Jerico in Bogotß, and Portico, el Arca, Amanecer, Rosario, Cachicamo and Colombia Chiquita; and in Guatemala: Concepcion, Nuevo Horizonte and La Merced in Guatemala City, and San Jorge, Sacuma, Limoncito, Gucumatz, El Carmen and Villa Real. Based on the experiences in these sites, the book examines the following aspects of urban violence: the role of participatory research methodologies in policy planning; the complexity of daily violence; community perceptions of underlying structural factors; the family as a violent institution; linkage to substance abuse; organised violence at the community level; social institutions and social capital; and community perceptions on strategies of dealing with violence.
This paper has its origins in a participatory action research project by Roofless Women's Action Research Mobilization (RWARM). The organisation seeks to consult directly with those who have experienced homelessness to seek their expertise on how to restructure the current system to effectively combat homelessness. Narratives or stories of formerly homeless women are shared in order to promote understanding of reasons why women become homeless and of issues faced by women once they are homeless.