“Julia” nervously emerges from her shabby tent in the suburban wastelands on the outskirts of Madrid to face another day of survival in one of Europe’s most problematic ghettos: she is homeless, wanted by the police, and addicted to heroin and cocaine. She is also five months pregnant and rarely makes contact with support services.
Welcome to the city shadows in Valdemingómez: a lawless landscape of drugs and violence where the third world meets the Wild West. Briggs and Monge entered this area with only their patience, some cigarettes and a mobile phone and collected vivid testimonies and images of Julia and others like her who live there. This important book documents what they found, locating these peoples’ stories and situations in a political, economic and social context of spatial inequality and oppressive mechanisms of social control.
Dr Daniel Briggs is a Consultant to the British Foreign Office who works part time at the Universidad Europea in Madrid, Spain. As a researcher, writer and inter-disciplinary academic who studies social problems, he has undertaken ethnographic research into social issues from street drug users to terminally ill-patients; from refugees to prostitutes; and from gypsies to gangs and deviant youth behaviours. He also lectures across the social sciences and has published widely.
Rubén Monge Gamero has a first-class undergraduate degree in Criminology from Universidad Europea and his final year project was based on participant observation of Valdemingómez. He recently concluded a Masters in Intelligence Analysis and hopes to be a police officer.
"Wow! This book is an ethnographic tour de force documenting the European social democratic dream's collision with the nightmare reality of the neoliberal ‘global chase for profit’." - Professor Philippe Bourgois, author of Righteous Dopefiend and In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio
"a detailed, enthralling and discomforting ethnographic investigation of the growing poverty and desperation found at the edges of Europe's glittering metropolises... what Briggs reveals will make you sad and angry, but the gritty reality of our most marginalised neighbourhoods must be researched in this way if the social sciences are to move forward" - Professor Simon Winlow, Teesside University, UK
"An unflinching, yet ultimately compassionate rendering of human vulnerabilityAn unflinching, yet ultimately compassionate rendering of human vulnerability" - Professor Rowland Atkinson, Sheffield University, UK
"hard-hitting ethnography of the chaotic lives of socially-excluded cocaine and heroin consumers, and the limitations of drug policy" - Dr James Windle, University of East London, UK
"Briggs trains his powerful searchlight on the devastating social consequences of unemployment, insecurity and pervasive drug markets" - Professor Steve Hall, Teesside University, UK
"This is just the type of research and critique Spain so desperately needs." - Dr Jorge Ramiro Pérez Suárez, University of Huddersfield and the European University of Madrid, Spain
"a riveting and at times chilling reading...a must-read for scholars and students of anthropology, criminology and sociology as well as activists and policy makers." - Dr Tereza Kuldova, University of Oslo, Norway
"a thoroughly researched and exceptionally well written ethnography" - Professor Jeffrey Ian Ross, University of Baltimore, US
"This is an exceptional study and a fascinating read… ethnography at its best" - Dr Steve Wakeman, Liverpool John Moores University, UK
"combines fantastic ethnography with new theoretical political economy, precisely the mixture we need to make sense of our nightmarish contemporary world…Riveting!" - Steve Redhead, Professor of Cultural Studies, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia
"Ethnographic work at its best, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in drugs, crime and harm." - Dr Alexandra Hall, Teesside University, UK
"This is what criminology should be about!" - Dr Leah Moyle, Griffith Criminology Institute, Australia