The magic of guns

Scriptive technology and violence in Haiti

by CHELSEY L. KIVLAND

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When urban Haitians recounted stories of gun violence, they infused the gun with transformative effects on subjectivity and agency. Touching a gun was said to magically change people and what they were capable of in the world. The magic of the gun was predicated on its ability to provide “scripts” for violent ways of being and acting in the world. These gun stories inspire a novel theorization of the gun as a scriptive technology. The gun's technological design and how it has been used in previous scenarios of political authority and violence lead people to act and be recognized as chèfs (chiefs), a model of black masculine popular sovereignty born in the life worlds of young men on the margins of Port‐au‐Prince.