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Mortal DoubtTransnational Gangs and Social Order in Guatemala City$
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Anthony W. Fontes

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780520297081

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520297081.001.0001

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Liminal Redemption

Liminal Redemption

(p.209) Chapter 6 Liminal Redemption
Mortal Doubt

Anthony W. Fontes

University of California Press

When a marero seeks to be something other than a marero, what scripts can possibly make this transformation legible—to himself, to his gang, and to his community—and what routes can lead away from a violent death so certain that it seems like fate? This chapter details the disappearing escape routes for gang members who try to leave gang life behind. Collective conceptions of the maras and mareros as fit only for extermination mean that former gang members must find ways to “perform” this shift to convince others, often drawing on Evangelical Christianity as a means to find belonging outside the gangs. It discusses the built-in conundrums involved in how church groups, members of the Guatemalan public, and international funding organizations, among others, seek to measure and pinpoint whether and how a gang member has redeemed himself. The chapter moves through former gang member “conversion narratives” before returning to Calavera’s story of seeking to survive after leaving prison and the moments of chance and contingency that shape his struggle.

Keywords:   Guatemala, Central America, gangs, liminal, Evangelical Christianity, conversion narratives

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