Elisabeth Leidland

Nord University

Elisabeth Leidland

Emotions, masculinities, and violence: Exploring the influence of emotions on former gang members’ violent life choices in Honduras

My PhD project explores how relations between emotions and masculinities influence former gang members’ violent life choices. While several studies have explored underlying causes for marginalized youth to join gangs, the influence of emotions have generally been overlooked, or at best been recognized as secondary to the understanding of mechanisms motivating them to pursue a path of violence. This project aim to shed light on how emotions interrelate with the formation of masculine identities to create meanings to violent actions.

I have conducted life history interviews and group interviews with former members of the gangs Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 (Pandilla 18/18th Street gang) in Honduras. I chose to talk with former gang members, specifically, as their life experiences can give a comprehensive insight into contextual dynamics of violence, and how emotional experiences materialize in social relations and shape the individual and collective understanding of violence. Furthermore, it can illuminate the difficulties and possibilities of moving beyond a violent life, and the emotional struggles of such a process.