Guns and Gang Spaces in South Africa
Keywords:gang violence, embodiment, guns, identity, masculinity
The gun is not just an object and or a weapon; it has particular, deep relations with those who carry and possess it. The gun is embedded in the mentality of the man who uses it. Once gun life is inculcated in the mind, it is difficult to leave it behind. In post-apartheid South Africa, gangs and the use of guns have continued unabated. Despite this continued relationship between gangs and guns, studies have skirted around the ways in which guns are experienced and embodied in a context which is imbued with violence. Guns define the gang members who carry them in their everyday lives, as well as the spaces in which gangs operate. Importantly, understanding the spaces of gangs, such as the streets, is critical to understanding the ways in which they help gangs to forge a particular relationship with guns. This article is based on an ethnography of the black township Gugulethu in Cape Town, South Africa.