This paper begins by considering the premise that patterns of violence have undergone a fundamental shift in contemporary Latin America, from being predominantly state-related forms of political violence to non-state forms of social and economic violence, due to the weakening of states. With reference to the example of Nicaraguan youth gangsterism, the way in which such latter forms of violence can nevertheless constitute modes of social ordering is underlined, suggesting that it is important not to underestimate the ontological correspondence between state and non-state forms of violence in Latin America. At the same time, however, this apparent correspondence raises some problematic epistemological issues, which lead to a discussion of the nature of state governmentality, for which an alternative conception is proposed that is briefly exemplified in the Nicaraguan context. The paper concludes with some thoughts on how to better understand the state's continuing role as an actor in the contemporary Latin American panorama of violence
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