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The book is a deep-dive into gangs in Cape Town, South Africa. It explores street culture and gang practices through the lives of 24 former members, detailing what it takes to get out of gangsterism in townships where poverty, insecurity, and disempowerment are pressing concerns. Research merges street cultural scholarship with disengagement literature to better understand gangs in the emerging city.

Gang violence is a concern being debated by academics, politicians, and communities around the world. Yet, effective solutions are in short supply. One reason is that too little research concentrates on understanding how people can leave gangs and violence. Gang Entry and Exit in Cape Town fills this important knowledge gap by providing a deep qualitative account of what it is like to join and disengage from gangs in Africa's deadliest city. The book sets the life histories of 24 former gang members against hundreds of hours of additional interviews and observation from five years of ethnographic research. The told stories are a testament to the successes and struggles associated with transitions out of gang life. In examining gang leaving in Cape Town as it does, the book reimagines gangsterism in a way that pays heed to the overwhelming force of violent street culture, but also confirms the possibility of overcoming crime and violence amid underdevelopment. Rather than simply reproducing the gangs-violence-poverty narrative, people are shown to transform their lives by moving beyond the streets, using adaptions that challenge the pessimistic conclusions commonly attributed to gang participants. Presenting evidence about successful gang exit serves as a practical starting point for effectively intervening against gangs – offering hope to those trying exit gang life, as well as those trying to help them do so.

Gang Entry and Exit in Cape Town was jointly selected for the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) Book Award in the Emerging Researcher Category.

“This really is a remarkable book, the product of several years of immersive work in the deadly townships of Cape Town… It is a book which combines rigorous academic and theoretical analysis (how in Bourdieu’s concept of habitus, “field of forces” are always also “fields of struggle”) with a deeply humane and empathetic understanding of the inner life of Others”.  - John Higgins, writing about the book for ASSAf in The Daily Maverick.

Academic Articles

Dziewanski and Henry, Robert. 2023. "Comparative Analysis of Coloured Gangs in Cape Town and Indigenous Gangs on Canada’s Prairies: Connecting Localized Opposition to Globalized Grievances Through Street Culture". Critical Criminology, 31(2023): 239–258.

Dziewanski. 2020. "Commanding The ‘Art of Killing’: How Virtuosic Performances of Street Culture Disrupt Gang Rules". The British Journal of Criminology, 5(60): 1368–1386.

Dziewanski. 2020. “Leaving Gangs in Cape Town: Disengagement as Role Exit”. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 4(49): 507-535.

Dziewanski. 2020. “From East Harlem to Cape Town: Tupac Shakur’s Legacy as A Globalised Oppositional Repertoire”. Ethnography.

Dziewanski. 2020. “Femme Fatales: Girl Gangsters and Violent Street Culture in Cape Town”. Feminist Criminology, 4(15): 438-463.

Journalistic Features

Dziewanski. 2019. "In a Cape Town Crackdown on Guns and Gangs, South Africans Fear becoming Collateral Damage". The Globe and Mail, 10 October.

Dziewanski. 2016. "Twenty Years Later, Tupac Lives in The Cape Flats". Daily Vox, 11 September.

Dziewanski. 2016. "The Difficult Exit from The Gangs". Ground Up, 15 July.

Dziewanski. 2015. "How Traditional Healers Helped Defeat Ebola". Al Jazeera, 5 November.

Dziewanski. 2015. "The Unarmed Civilians Bringing Peace to South Sudan". The Guardian, 30 October.

Dziewanski. 2015. "The Price of Justice in South Africa". Al Jazeera, 8 September.

Dziewanski. 2015. "Escaping Gangland through Islam". Al Jazeera, 9 June.

Dziewanski. 2015. "Down to Zero: Recovering from Ebola in Sierra Leone". Al Jazeera, 26 April.

Dziewanski. 2014. "Recruiting Child Soldiers on The Cape Flats". Ground Up, 10 November.

Dziewanski. 2014. "Unusual Suspects: Women and Gangs in South Africa". The New Humanitarian, 11 June.


Dziewanski. 2021. "Here’s How Some of Cape Town’s Gangsters Got Out – and Stayed Out". The Conversation, 15 November.

Dziewanski. 2020. "Tupac Is Alive in Africa". Africa Is a Country, 20 November.

Dziewanski. 2020. "The Cape Town Gangsters Who Use Extreme Violence to Operate Solo". The Conversation, 9 August.

Dziewanski. 2020. "It’s Hard to Leave a Cape Town Gang. But These Men’s Stories Show That It’s Possible". The Conversation, 15 July.

Dziewanski. 2020. "The Violence Within Us: Police Violence, Racism and The Connections between Minneapolis in The United States and Cape Town, South Africa". Africa Is A Country, 16 July.

Dziewanski. 2020. "What Protests and Police Brutality in The U.S. Can Teach Canada about Its Violence against Racialized Peoples"., 15 July.

Dziewanski. 2020. "Reconsidering The Streets: Making and Breaking Street Culture in Cape Town". Word on The Street, 15 July.

Dziewanski. 2014. "How Canada's Foreign Aid Fails to Prepare for Ebola". Huffington Post, 19 August.

Dziewanski. 2014. "Pistorius Should Not Be the Face of Violence in South Africa". Huffington Post, 11 March.

Dziewanski. 2013. "Is the End of CIDA the End of Canadian Development?". Huffington Post, 27 March.

Dziewanski. 2013. "The High Price of Muzzling CIDA Staffers". Huffington Post, 7 February.

Dziewanski. 2013. "Listen Up Canada, U.S. Gun Laws Affect You Too". Huffington Post, 17 January.

Dziewanski. 2013. "Why CIDA Should Plan for Failure". Huffington Post, 11 January.

Dziewanski. 2013. "Is Canada's Foreign Aid Just About Looking Good?". Huffington Post, 2 January.

Dziewanski. 2012. "Gun Control: Should Firearms Represent Freedom?". Huffington Post, 20 December.


Interview on CapeTalk 567AM. "A New Paper Authored by Dariusz Dziewanski Explores the Similarities and Differences between Gangs in Canada and Cape Town.". 25 July 2023.

Interview on CapeTalk 567AM. "Family and Religion Key for Cape Town Gangsters Who Leave Street Life". 26 November 2021.

Interview on CapeTalk 567AM. "Solo Cape Town Gangsters Forced to Fend for Themselves and Use Extreme Violence". 12 August 2020.

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