Secure the Soul (Paperback)

Christian Piety and Gang Prevention in Guatemala

By Kevin Lewis O'Neill

University of California Press, 9780520278493, 304pp.

Publication Date: January 16, 2015

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (1/16/2015)

List Price: 29.95*
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“I’m not perfect,” Mateo confessed. “Nobody is. But I try.” Secure the Soul shuttles between the life of Mateo, a born-again ex-gang member in Guatemala and the gang prevention programs that work so hard to keep him alive. Along the way, this poignantly written ethnography uncovers the Christian underpinnings of Central American security. In the streets of Guatemala City—amid angry lynch mobs, overcrowded prisons, and paramilitary death squads—millions of dollars empower church missions, faith-based programs, and seemingly secular security projects to prevent gang violence through the practice of Christian piety. With Guatemala increasingly defined by both God and gangs, Secure the Soul details an emerging strategy of geopolitical significance: regional security by way of good Christian living.

About the Author

Kevin Lewis O'Neill is Associate Professor in the Department for the Study of Religion and the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies, University of Toronto. He is the author of City of God: Christian Citizenship in Postwar Guatemala.

Praise For Secure the Soul: Christian Piety and Gang Prevention in Guatemala

"Extensively researched."

— Books & Culture

"O'Neill's field work . . . throughout the book, is impressive.; [Secure the Soul] opens up a range of important conversations."

— Jill DeTemple

"A deeply sensitive ethnography . . . a watershed moment not only for students of Guatemala, but also for Latin Americanists, scholars of Evangelical Christianity, and critics of the national security state."

— Chris Garces