Clifford Geertz famously wrote that “man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun.” Acts of meaning making always occur in the context of particular historical systems shot through with power relations. Power and meaning making are intrinsically related. In Latin America, key variables are class, race, and gender. In this volume, Gema Santamaría and David Carey Jr. have brought together a fascinating collection of articles about meaning making and power dynamics around violence and crime. Their analytical starting point is useful. Violence and crime are key features of Latin American social and political systems that cannot be explained only by state failure, (neoliberal) social inequalities and exclusions, and (even less so) cultural essentialism. Perceptions, representations, and narratives matter since they shape what is viewed as criminal, legal and illegal, dangerous, and punishable. Meaningful frames not only shape...

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