Women, Girls and Gangs: Case Studies from California’s Central Coast
Julie Reynolds’s research centers on women and girls who live in and around criminal street and prison gangs in agricultural Northern California. In the city of Salinas, women have for more than four decades been closely involved with gangs and gang members, yet their lives are rarely studied. Julie’s impressions and experience as a reporter covering the Nuestra Familia gang for a decade lead her to believe that even when women are not officially recognized “members” of a gang, they often play risky and essential supporting roles as girlfriends, wives and family members.
This research will further understanding on women’s reasons for getting involved, the costs or benefits that gang life both promises and actually delivers, and for older women, what insights aging has brought them years after they became involved in what are essentially violent organizations of young males.
Research will explore topics such as child rearing and family relationships in the gang environment, incarceration and other risks for women, and for those wishing to leave the life, their successes or failures in staying out given the close-knit, family-oriented structures of California’s Latino gangs.
For this work, Julie will interview women and girls from the Salinas area, and also hopes to study initial findings from one of the few broad research studies of more than 100 women and girls in gangs that is currently being undertaken by Dr. Angie Wolf of the National Center on Crime and Delinquency.
Tranforming Arms into Art in Mozambique
Amy Schwartzott’s current research focuses on the efforts of two groups who are promoting peacekeeping in Mozambique, the Transforming Arms into Plowshares/Transformação de Armas em Enxadas (TAE) project, and FOMICRES (Mozambican Force for Crime Investigation and Social Reinsertion). Both of these groups’ goals include collecting, destroying, and transforming weapons of war into art. TAE and FOMICRES strive not only to eradicate weapons from Mozambique, but to engage in civic education and community awareness projects to promote peace.
Amy’s research aims to fully contextualize these projects, including direct and participant observation and interviews with "informants" who hand over weapons to the organizations, some of whom are former child soldiers; individuals who collect and destroy the weapons; artists who turn the destroyed weapons into powerful art forms; and patrons and sponsors of these organizations. Amy’s research on TAE and FOMICRES utilizes recycling as a framework for artistic production, and art as a medium for post-conflict resolution.
Becoming a US Military Veteran: Contemporary Perspectives on Reintegration
Kyle Lopez, our very first Research Fellow at the Centre, will conduct research on the challenges U.S. veterans face in re-integrating back into society after their service. Through interviews, he intends to gather a broad and diverse range of qualitative information on their service and experience of living in the U.S. Being that the U.S. is a country at war, there is a growing number of military men and women veterans whose lives and perspectives deserve more focus and care upon completion of their duties than society often acknowledges. The project will encompass topics such as civilian reintegration, domestic resources for PTSD, the effects of war on family and friends, and the ongoing battles for integrity and hope in times of tribulation. The project’s goal is to distill key lessons and insights about the nature of war and peace from the experiences of those who were directly involved in its pursuit.