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April 18, 2009, 2:30 PM

On Aggression: The Politics and Psychobiology of Violence and the City

Participants: David Brotherton, Brandon del Pozo, Steven Marans

Urban life epitomizes the notion of the melting pot. Spurred on by the enormous wave of immigration at the turn of the century, cities like Boston, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco became crossroads for numerous transplanted cultures from both Europe and the Far East. Social elevation and assimilation have always been part of the American dream, but all major American cities have their Chinatowns and Little Italys. Insularity and division along ethnic lines have been ways of preserving traditional cultures, although they have often led to conflict and violence. Legendary gangs like the Crips are still a potent force in cities like Los Angeles and Chicago, in much the same way as the Westies expressed the territoriality of the primarily Irish population of New York City's Hell's Kitchen in the 60s and 70s. The conflicts of urban existence have been documented in a host of sociological works, from Ferdinand Tönnies's seminal Community and Society to David Reisman's The Lonely Crowd. This panel will examine the psycho-historical and sociological forces at the root of the urban violence as it manifests itself both in America and abroad.

David Brotherton is a Professor and Chair of Sociology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York, a member of the Ph.D. faculties in Criminal Justice, Sociology and Urban Education at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and a research associate at numerous international universities. Dr. Brotherton's research and teaching primarily focus on processes of social exclusion and resistance. He has published widely on street gangs, urban education, youth subcultures, immigration and deportation, and is the recipient of numerous awards from public and private foundations. His most recent and soon-to be-published books are: Back to the Homeland: Social Control, Dominican Deportees and Transnationalism (co-authored with Luis Barrios); Globalizing the Streets: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Youth, Marginalization and Empowerment (co-edited with Michael Flynn); Keeping Out The Other: Critical Analysis of Immigration Control Today (co-edited with Phil Kretsedemas); The Encyclopedia of Gangs (co-edited with Louis Kontos); and The Almighty Latin King & Queen Nation: Street Politics and the Transformation of a New York City Gang (co-authored with Luis Barrios).

Brandon del Pozo is a captain in the New York City Police Department. Over the last 12 years, he has served in various patrol capacities in East Flatbush, Crown Heights, and throughout Manhattan North. He has also worked in policy and planning, at the police academy and in the department's Intelligence Division, in which he served for two years in the Kingdom of Jordan as the NYPD's intelligence liaison to the Arab Middle East. He presently commands an internal affairs unit that investigates allegations of police corruption in the lower half of Manhattan. From 1996 to 2004, he served as an infantry officer in the US Army National Guard, receiving an honorable discharge at the rank of captain. Brandon graduated from Dartmouth College in 1996 and holds master's degrees from Harvard University and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He is presently completing the coursework for a doctorate in philosophy at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Steven Marans is Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry and Director of the National Center for Children Exposed to Violence at Yale University. He is a child and adult psychoanalyst who has written extensively on violence, trauma and collaborative interventions. He is the founder of the Child Development-Community Policing Program, an internationally recognized approach to responding to violence and catastrophic events. He has worked closely with previous administrations in the White House and Department of Justice as well as with members of Congress in helping to shape policy and programming around issues of trauma and youth violence. He is also the author of Listening to Fear, and co-author with William Harris and Alicia Lieberman of a policy paper regarding violence and trauma, "In the Best Interests of Society," published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.


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