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Journal Article

The long road: Hope, violence, and ethical register in London street culture


Samanani,  Farhan       
Socio-Cultural Diversity, MPI for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Max Planck Society;

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Samanani, F. (2022). The long road: Hope, violence, and ethical register in London street culture. American ethnologist: a journal of the American Ethnological Society. doi:10.1111/amet.13067.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-EF1C-C
Street cultures remain a challenging topic for anthropologicalanalysis, reflecting broader disciplinary tensions. Approaches thatfocus on structure and power tend to provide overly deterministicaccounts of action, especially regarding violence, while attempts totrace ethical striving have tended to characterize street cultures asdomains of ethical failure or as defined by the pursuit of short-termpleasures. Navigating between these approaches, I draw onethnographic accounts from “the Caldwell,” a deprived London socialhousing estate, to argue that ethical registers are an important locusof ethical life. Youth strive to build worthwhile lives not simply byadopting particular ethical stances, but by pushing on the limits ofavailable stances by weaving these together into a broader ethicalregister. For many young people involved with the Caldwell’s streetculture, ethical striving is inextricable from, and may even primarilyentail, efforts to cultivate collective registers, which entanglecriminal and noncriminal horizons. [street culture,gangs,violence,ethics,inequality,exclusion,hip-hop,stance,register,London]