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Johan Wedel

This article focuses on efforts to overcome the divide between state legality and local practices. It explores a pragmatic effort to deal with witchcraft accusations and occult-related violence in customary courts among the Miskitu people in Eastern Nicaragua, taking into account both indigenous notions of justice and cosmology, and the laws of the state. In this model, a community court (elected by the community inhabitants and supported by a council of elders), watchmen known as ‘voluntary police’ and a ‘judicial facilitator’ play intermediary roles. Witchcraft is understood and addressed in relation to Miskitu cultural perceptions and notions of illness afflictions, and disputes are settled through negotiations involving divination, healing, signing a legally binding ‘peace’ contract, a fine, and giving protection to alleged witches. This decreases tensions and the risk of vigilante justice is reduced. The focus is on settling disputes, conciliation and recreating harmony instead of retribution.

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Why do drug dealers still live with their moms?

Contrasting views from Chicago and Managua

Dennis Rodgers

emerged in Managua, Nicaragua. It particularly highlights how drug dealing in the latter context occurred within a highly segmented labor market in which only a few specific individuals could participate. As a result, although drug selling in Managua was

Open access

Julienne Weegels

,’ he answers sternly. ‘Burn them because it's una sal (bad luck).’ According to Bobby, the haunting grip of the Nicaraguan prison system is extended through the belongings one takes along from prison, in the very clothes one wears when leaving. It

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Grounding Rights

Populist and Peasant Conceptions of Entitlement in Rural Nicaragua

David Cooper

What are we doing, what have we been doing? We’ve been re-establishing the rights of the People. —Nicaraguan Vice President and First Lady Rosario Murillo As I write in April 2018, social media is erupting in response to an outbreak of state

Open access

Vandalism as Symbolic Reparation

Imaginaries of Protest in Nicaragua

Ileana L. Selejan

The 2018 anti-government protests in Nicaragua generated a vast amount of photographic imagery, video documentation, and visual graphics. On the street and via social media, everyday citizens engaged with this material, activating a multisensory environment. The production of visual content was nonetheless accompanied by iconoclastic gestures; vandalism became a means of reclaiming Nicaragua’s revolutionary past and its symbols, while deploying them towards the making of a yet to be imagined political future. Drawing on examples from Chile and Mexico, the article argues that acts of vandalism may be understood as symbolically reparative. The materiality of the protests, manifested through image, trace, gesture, and sound (slogans, chants, noise) becomes a means towards analysing, ethnographically, revolutionary imaginaries caught within the flux of an unsettled present.

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Arturo Escobar

Five or ten years from now, the performance of the allegedly leftist regimes in Latin America (particularly those of Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia and, to varying degrees, those of Argentina, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Chile, Uruguay, and Brazil) will be assessed in terms of the extent to which they were able to bring about a reduction of poverty, sustained rates of growth, and a measure of democratization in their countries, including less inequality and more inclusive policies, particularly toward ethnic minorities.

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Contested boundaries

Border disputes, administrative disorder, and state representational practices in Nicaragua (1936–1956)

Jennifer Alvey

This article examines a 20-year border dispute between two adjacent southern interior municipalities in Nicaragua. The dispute acts as window into the politics of state formation and the consolidation of the dictatorship of Anastacio Somoza García (1936–1956). This conflict was waged by locally based “state actors” who contested each other's attempts to stake and extend spatially based claims to authority. Contending parties developed a shared language of contention that I call “administrative disorder”, which tracked closely with accusations of invasion and abuse of authority. Administrative disorder discourses were representational practices that contributed to the discursive construction of the state. They were also the means by which representatives of the state sought to justify or normalize their own activities. As such, these discourses concealed political tensions rooted in patronage networks, municipal formation, land privatization, and ethnic assimilation, which shaped the contours and longevity of the dispute, but remained lurking silences in administrative disorder discourses.

Open access

Telling Tales?

Subjective Ethnography and Situated Narratives in Longitudinal Research on Violence in Nicaragua

Dennis Rodgers

The ethnographic representation of violence is a controversial issue, involving debates about (avoiding) sensationalism or (acknowledging) emotionality, for example. Less considered is how the subjective nature of ethnography and the fact that ethnographic narratives are always situated can have ramifications for both interpreting and representing violence, particularly in the context of longitudinal ethnographic research. Drawing on my investigations into Nicaraguan gang dynamics begun in 1996, this article explores the subjectivity of the longitudinal ethnographic experience of violence both in and out of “the field” through three specific examples. These highlight in different ways how ethnographic understanding is highly situational and time-bound, meaning that longitudinal research is particularly prone to episodes of discomfiting conceptual disjuncture. At the same time, it is precisely this that arguably imbues it with exceptional power and insight.

Open access

‘I'm Not that Kind of Doctor’

On Being In-Between in a Global Health Intervention

Erica Nelson

-funded health intervention known as Project CERCA (Community-Embedded Reproductive Health Care for Adolescents in Latin America) ( Decat et al. 2013 ). The health research intervention sites – Managua, Nicaragua; Cochabamba, Bolivia; and Cuenca, Ecuador

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Amanda Bonnick, Yousif M. Qasmiyeh, and Theophilus Kwek

works in Nicaragua, writes what his eyes can see and what adheres to his clothes after a long day's work. These translations, from Arabic into English, have been completed with the notion of distantiation in mind; that is, for Ratrout to survive his