Forms of Violence in Past and Present: El Salvador and Belize in Comparative Perspective

  • Hannes Warnecke-Berger


El Salvador as well as Belize is marked by exorbitant levels of violence. However, both societies experienced a radical change of predominating forms of violence in the last century. While state repression and revolutionary violence dominated for a long time in El Salvador, during the last two decades, political violence lost importance and mutated into criminal violence. In Belize, on the contrary, high levels of criminal violence are said to have developed recently. Historical perspectives, however, are sparse in the study of violence and its expressions. Moreover, little attention has been paid to the analysis of the relationships among violence in general, different forms of violence, and larger historical processes. By introducing the concept of horizontal violence, this chapter both contests historical narratives on violence and argues that ordinary violence among equals is deeply embedded in Belizean as well as in Salvadoran society. The chapter presents new quantitative data on the historical evolution of violence since the 1920s. Moreover, these quantitative data will be related to qualitative accounts of violence derived from extensive ethnographic fieldwork and narrative historical sources. The chapter finally shows historical causes of the development of different forms of violence by uncovering changes and continuities in the social organization of violence over the long period of the last century. Finally, the chapter methodologically argues that it is necessary to go beyond the narrow Central American focus on the three northern societies—el triangulo norte. Including other countries, highly different in their cultures, histories, and economies, but at the same time also suffering from high levels of violence and sharing similar forms of violence, in the analysis promises to yield future insights in research on violence.


Conflict Management Political Arena Criminal Violence Youth Gang Latin American Study 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Hannes Warnecke-Berger
    • 1
  1. 1.SFB 1199 “Processes of Spatialization under the Global Condition”LeipzigGermany

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