Jarrod Gilbert is very lucky that he comes from a country the size of New Zealand. With only 4 million people he could carry...

Jarrod Gilbert is very lucky that he comes from a country the size of New Zealand. With only 4 million people he could carry out a project that would be beyond the abilities of someone from a large nation and beyond the scope of a single book, namely, the history of all the gangs in a country. Patched: The History of Gangs in New Zealand (Auckland UP, 2013) is, as you will hear in the interview, partly a history of society and politics in New Zealand. Gangs arise from influences of culture and demographics. People form and join gangs for reasons of security and belonging but once in them develop strong in-group behaviours and out-group prejudices. All of this is evident in this book. Jarrod traces the history from the 1950s when the locals copied the Hells Angels through to modern gangs where again the locals are copying American culture and creating imitations of the Bloods and the Crips. It is also interesting to see the responses of government and police in dealing with stereotypes and real criminal activity. I think anyone who reads this book will see familiar practices acted out by the gangs, the authorities and the community. This is a very human story and well worth the read.

 

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