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A History of Nonviolence: Insecurity and the Normative Power of the Imagined in Costa Rica

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  • Sebastian Huhn

    ()
    (GIGA Institute of Latin American Studies)

Abstract

Crime, violence, and insecurity are among the most important social topics in contemporary Costa Rica. These three issues play a central role in the media, politics, and everyday life, and the impression has emerged that security has changed for the worse and that society is now threatened permanently. However, crime statistics do not support this perception. The paper thus asks why violence and crime generate such huge fear in society. The thesis is that the Costa Rican national identity—with Costa Rica constructed as a nonviolent nation— impedes a realistic discussion about the phenomena and their causes, and simultaneously provides a platform for sensationalism and the social construction of fear.

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File URL: http://repec.giga-hamburg.de/pdf/giga_08_wp84_huhn.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies in its series GIGA Working Paper Series with number 84.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:gig:wpaper:84

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Keywords: Costa Rica; violence; crime; national identity; public discourse;

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References

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  1. A. W. Coats, 1996. "Introduction," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, Duke University Press, vol. 28(5), pages 3-11, Supplemen.
  2. Bulmer-Thomas,Victor, 1987. "The Political Economy of Central America since 1920," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521348393.
  3. Sebastian Huhn, 2008. "Discourses on Violence in Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Nicaragua: Social Perceptions in Everyday Life," GIGA Working Paper Series, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies 81, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
  4. Peter Peetz, 2008. "Discourses on Violence in Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Nicaragua: Laws and the Construction of Drug- and Gender-Related Violence," GIGA Working Paper Series, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies 72, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
  5. Ziggy MacDonald, 2002. "Official Crime Statistics: Their Use and Interpretation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(477), pages F85-F106, February.
  6. Sebastian Huhn & Anika Oettler & Peter Peetz, 2006. "Exploding Crime? Topic Management in Central American Newspapers," GIGA Working Paper Series, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies 33, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
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Cited by:
  1. Sebastian Huhn, 2009. "The Culture of Fear and Control in Costa Rica (I): Crime Statistics and Law Enforcement," GIGA Working Paper Series, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies 104, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
  2. Sebastian Huhn, 2009. "The Culture of Fear and Control in Costa Rica (II): The Talk of Crime and Social Changes," GIGA Working Paper Series, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies 108, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.

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