The BBC’s World Service ‘Assignment’ tells the world’s stories from the point of view of those most affected by them – the victims, the witnesses – and the perpetrators. Professor Kevin O’Neill’s expertise and assistance to the programme makers features prominently in the episode Guatemala’s Addicts Behind Bars. The Assignment website outlines the programme as follows:
“The last decade has seen a dramatic increase in cocaine trafficking through Guatemala en route north, to the United States. Part of the fallout locally, has been a rise in addiction. As a result, more than 200 drug rehabilitation centres have been set up in the capital alone. Many of these are run by Pentecostal churches, with little oversight or regulation. Often addicts are swept up from the streets by ‘hunting parties’, and forced to attend such a centre. Linda Pressly travels to Guatemala City to investigate compulsory drug rehabilitation events.”
Kevin Lewis O’Neill’s work, deeply ethnographic, examines the moral dimensions of contemporary political practice. His first book, City of God (University of California Press 2010), details Neo-Pentecostalism’s relationship to democratization at the level of citizenship in postwar Guatemala. His second book, Secure the Soul (University of California Press 2015), tracks Christian piety’s entanglement with Central American security.
Professor O’Neill is currently writing two books. The first is titled “For Christ’s Sake” and looks at the concomitant rise of crack cocaine and Christian drug rehabilitation centers in Guatemala City. The second is titled “The Problem of Evil” and considers clerical sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, with a focus on the movement of predators from North America to Latin America.