Youth violence

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Youth violence at the urban margins

Ongoing projects

University of Oxford



I am an anthropologist and a final year doctoral candidate at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford. I have also been a Junior Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, and a Visiting Scholar at the Faculty of Law and Political Science of the University of Antioquia in Medellin. 

My doctoral research project is titled 'We Are the Nobodies: Youth, Violence and Exclusion in Colombia's Urban Margins'. It is based on 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Colombia, explores why and how adolescents get involved in organised crime and violence at the urban and peri-urban margins in the region of Antioquia. Data was gathered in peripheries of the small town of San Carlos and the close-by city Medellin, through daily conversations with marginal youths and regular observation of their illicit activities, as well as sustained engagement with their families and communities.

The research finds that these young people's engagement in crime and violence is related to the stigma they suffer in their families and communities, the violence they experience within the home, and their frustrated attempts to achieve social adulthood in licit ways. This project confirms the existence of a core link between youth violence and exclusion, and illustrates the normative and moral discourses through which exclusion and violence take shape in these young people's lives. By contextualising these findings within Colombia’s transition to peace, this thesis questions clear-cut distinctions between conflict and its aftermath, and points towards further transformations that need to take place for peace to last. 

project publications

Butti, E. (2018). Involving Non-Organised ‘Outcast’ Youths in Peacebuilding: Existing Challenges and Lessons Learned in the Colombian Case. A contribution to the Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security mandated by Security Council Resolution 2250 (2015).

Butti, E. (2016). The Invisible Violence behind the Legal Façade: Challenges of and Strategies for Conducting Research in High-Risk Settings in Transitional Colombia. Journal of the Oxford Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Issue 1.

project media

Photo series: Growing up at the margins. Medellín and San Carlos, Colombia, 2016.