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Dr. Lirio Gutierrez Rivera

Boltzmannstr. 1
14197 Berlin

Lirio studied Anthropology (MA, Universidad de los Andes, Colombia) and Political Science (Dr.phil. Freie Universität Berlin). Before joining the Center of Area of Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin, she was a posdoc fellow at the Research Network at the Freie Universität Berlin (2010-2012) where she carried out the first part of her research on elite formation and Palestinian social mobility in Honduras and how it has influenced the production and reproduction of inequalities.


For the past ten years, Lirio has conducted fieldwork in Colombia and Honduras. Lirio’s research topics also include violence, marginal youth (especially youth gangs), and security policies in Central America (with emphasis on Honduras), which she carried out during her doctoral studies at the Institute for Latin American Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin from 2005 to 2008 with doctoral stipend from the DAAD.

Long CV as a pdf-file
Focus of Research

Migration studies, migrant social mobility, elites, security policies, state and violence, marginal youth (particularly gangs), state and territoriality, Palestinian migration to the Latin America, Honduras, Colombia


Postdoctoral Research Project

After one hundred years of migration to Latin America, Syro-Lebanese and Palestinian are not only successful entrepreneurs, but also, in some countries, have emerged as economic and political elites. This is the case of Syro-Lebanese and Palestinians in the Caribbean Coasts of Colombia and Honduras. Existing scholarship observes that previous knowledge and skills in commerce and trade contributed to the early domination of urban commercial structures in these regions. However, the factors linked to Syro-Lebanese and Palestinian political and economic elite emergence has received little scholarly attention.


Syro-Lebanese and Palestinian elite emergence is closely linked to the accumulation of diverse forms of capital (following Bourdieu (1986), economic, cultural, and social capital). On the one hand, as former enclaves with a strong presence of foreign companies and migrants, the Caribbean Coasts of Colombia and Honduras turned into a transnationalized space in the early twentieth century facilitating Syro-Lebanese and Palestinians’ resource mobilization and economic capital expansion. On the other hand, Syro-Lebanese and Palestinians emerge as political elites because they count on sufficient cultural capital and social capital.


This study looks at Syro-Lebanese and Palestinians’ emergence as economic and political elites in two transnationalized regions: the Caribbean Coasts of Colombia and Honduras. The main question of this study is: How do Syro-Lebanese and Palestinian entrepreneurs emerge as economic and political elites? Using a conceptual-analytical framework based on Bourdieu’s notions of capital and class, this research draws on qualitative and empirical methods to test the following hypotheses:


·         Transnationalized spaces, such as the Caribbean Coasts of Honduras and Colombia, facilitate Syro-Lebanese and Palestinian resource mobilization and capital expansion, particularly economic capital, allowing them to emerge as regional economic elites.

·         Syro-Lebanese and Palestinians’ emergence as a political elite relies on cultural capital and, especially, social capital, that is, the durable networks and relationships with local elites.


Migrant capital expansion and elite incorporation, particularly among Latin American elites, have rarely been analyzed using Bourdieuian approach. Thus this research offers a new conceptual-analytical perspective for understanding migrant social mobility and elite incorporation in a region characterized by migration and transnationalization processes.


Peer-reviewed Articles


Gutiérrez Rivera, Lirio. (2012). “Geographies of Violence and Exclusion: Imprisoned Gangs (“Maras”) in Honduras”. Latin American Research Review, 47(2).


Gutiérrez Rivera, Lirio. (2011). “Security Policies from a Spatial Perspective: The Case of Honduras”. In: “Dossier Spaces of Insecurity: Rethinking Security Governance in Latin America”, Iberoamericana, N. 41, 143-155.


Gutiérrez Rivera, Lirio. (2010). “Discipline and Punish? Youth

Gangs’ Response to Zero-Tolerance in Honduras”, Bulletin of Latin American Research, 29(4): 492-514.


Gutiérrez Rivera, Lirio. (2007). “Opportunities and Possibilities: Volunteers’ Experience with People with HIV/AIDS”, Universitas Humanística, No. 64: 92-112. (In Spanish).





“Territories of Violence. State, Marginal Youth, and Public Security in Honduras”. (Under contract with Palgrave Macmillan).


Book Reviews


Baby, Sophie, Olivier Compagnon, and Eduardo González-Calleja (eds.). Violencia y transiciones políticas a finales del siglo XX. Europa del Sur-América Latina. Collection de la Casa Velázquez, Volume 110, Madrid, Casa de Velázquez, 2009. Geschichte Transnational, Universität Leipzig.


Conference Papers


“Palestinian Entrepreneurship from a Gender Perspective: Family Structures and the Caribbean Region ”. Paper presented at the Congress ADLAF- (German Society of Latin American Studies), Friederich Ebert Foundation, Berlin, Germany. May 10-12, 2012.   


“Migrant Entrepreneurs and Upward Mobility: Lessons from Palestinian Entrepreneurs in Honduras”. Paper presented at the Conference: The Mashriq and the Mahjar: Migration from the Levant, 1800-2000. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC. April 20-22, 2012.


“Elite Formation in Latin America: Palestinian Entrepreneurs in

Honduras”. Paper presented at the Conference on Ethnicity,

Race, and Indigenous Peoples in Latin America and the

Caribbean, University of San Diego. Nov 3-5, 2011.


“Security Policies from a Spatial Perspective: Lessons from

Honduras”, Paper presented at the Latin American Studies

Association (LASA), Toronto, Canada.October 6-9, 2010.


“Territorial Tensions between the State and the Youth Gangs

(Maras) in Honduras”, Paper presented at the Latin American

Studies Association (LASA), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. June 5-8,