In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio (Structural Analysis in the Social Sciences)
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Philippe Bourgois's ethnographic study of social marginalization in inner-city America, won critical acclaim when it was first published in 1995. For the first time, an anthropologist had managed to gain the trust and long-term friendship of street-level drug dealers in one of the roughest ghetto neighborhoods--East Harlem. This new edition adds a prologue describing the major dynamics that have altered life on the streets of East Harlem in the seven years since the first edition. In a new epilogue Bourgois brings up to date the stories of the people--Primo, Caesat, Luis, Tony, Candy--who readers come to know in this remarkable window onto the world of the inner city drug trade. Philippe Bourgois is Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. He has conducted fieldwork in Central America on ethnicity and social unrest and is the author of Ethnicity at Work: Divided Labor on a Central American Banana Plantation (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989). He is writing a book on homeless heroin addicts in San Francisco. 1/e hb ISBN (1996) 0-521-43518-8 1/e pb ISBN (1996) 0-521-57460-9
the misbehaving woman, and Caesar would inevitably oblige Primo even when I remained neutral or critical. Primo: You see, like she used to get in a mood, or something, and I didn’t wanna bother. One day she put on one of her negligees. And I was like, “leave me alone.” And she was like [snarling], “You have to!” I told her to leave me alone, but she didn’t wanta get off me, so I pushed her away. It was fucked up, because she had grabbed a knife. [distant gunshots] Caesar: Yo! Pops! I didn’t
their habits and to support what remains of their families. The flooding of women into the sex market has deteriorated working conditions for prostitutes, causing an epidemic of venereal disease among young women and newborn babies in the inner city.18 Crack addicts are also particularly vulnerable to public sexual humiliation, as they tolerate extreme levels of verbal and physical abuse in their pursuit of the initial sixty- to ninety-second ecstatic rush provided by smoking the drug. The
that.” Primo: [sniffing] I never tell him shit, especially tonight. I think he had a roach up his ass, ’Cause it’s slow. He was pissed off ’Cause the electrician from Con Ed [New York City’s electrical utility company] didn’t show up today. When I pushed the conversation into a discussion of how they could tolerate being minimum wage crack dealers, they responded with self-congratulatory, glorifying reminiscences of nights of record sales. Perhaps the same types of dialogue could be
[knobs], you know, the radio buttons, even though, I eventually just ended up throwing the buttons away. It was a good radio that I fucked up. It was a Blunt Point [Blaupunkt] – I don’t know if you ever heard of that brand – so that the normal guy who owned the car probably said [shaking his head in disgust], “Damn, son of a bitch!” But I was like, “If I can’t have it, they can’t have it.” I was a young, ignorant, stupid idiot. You know, estupido. We just broke out of the car and laughed.
interaction: Primo: I mean the way I remember it, I was so fucking young. I looked at it like, most likely, whoever never came back to hang out at the club, passed through some trauma, and it’s gonna be hidden within their life, for the rest of their life, and they’re never goin’a’ hang again. Instead they go home, and chill the fuck out, and keep a dark secret for the rest of their life. [looking at me defensively] I used to feel sorry, sometimes too, for them. But some bitches was more