Please join us for our next seminar and book signing event:

Gang Nostalgia: Generation, Authority and
the Role of History in a Chicago Gang

Laurence Ralph, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Departments of African and African American Studies
and of Anthropology
Harvard University

Friday, October 17, 2014
12pm – 2pm
Private Dining Room Campus Center
Lunch will be served 


Laurence Ralph is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Anthropology and African and African American Studies at Harvard University.He earned both a PhD and also a Master of Arts degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, and a Bachelor of Science degree from Georgia Institute of Technology where he majored in History, Technology and Society. Laurence has a diverse set of research interests, which include: urban anthropology, medical anthropology; the study of gangs, disability, masculinity, race, and popular culture. Laurence has published articles on these topics in Anthropological Theory, Disability Studies Quarterly, Transition, and Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power.

Laurence has recently released an ethnography entitled, Renegade Dreams: Living Through Injury in Gangland Chicago. This book grapples with the consequences of the “war on drugs” together with mass incarceration, the ramifications of heroin trafficking for HIV infected teenagers, the perils of gunshot violence and the ensuing disabilities that gang members suffer. Investigating this encompassing context allows him to detail the social forces that make black urban residents vulnerable to disease and disability. 

Gang Nostalgia: Generation, Authority and the Role of History in a Chicago Gang

This talk will explore how various generations of young gang members develop their worldview, while clinging to the memory of a gang structure that has ceased to exist. Ever since a generation of gang members was incarcerated due to the “war on drugs” in the 1980s, the Divine Knights have been devoid of central leadership. This absence has caused the Divine Knights to splinter into increasingly violent subsets. Decades of gang fracture has had dire consequences for the Divine Knights’ youngest constituency—members, who gang leaders call “renegades” because they supposedly disregard the aspirations of the collective in favor of their own individual pursuits. I show that each older generation of the gang sees their juniors through the lens of their own “coming-of-age” era. Their nostalgic view of the past blinds them to the problems of the present. Yet it permits them to place blame on the youngest generation of gang members for failing to live up to what has become an impossible standard.

Books will be available for purchase!


CURE seminars are free and open to the public.  No registration is required. 
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