Since former president Felipe Calderón declared a full-in war on drug cartels, Mexico has been the site of an astonishing number of violent deaths: over 125,000 in the most recent counts. While official explanations of this staggering figure generally attribute it to collateral damage in the war, this paper contends that the phenomenon runs deeper. The presentation will focus on the ideas of precariousness, unpredictability, and vulnerability as essential to understanding death in contemporary Mexico, and will attempt to show, through different cultural artifacts (from literature, cinema, journalism and the arts), that death is rather a symptom of two intertwining factors. On the one hand, the “war on drugs” is in reality a set of multiple wars that recently escalated longstanding conflicts between different actors in Mexico, from class antagonisms to political confrontation. On the other, I will contend that these wars are the effect of the economic and political vulnerability of Mexicans in the neoliberal era, a condition known as “precarity”, when the erosion of citizenship, economic enfranchisement, and other social achievements of the twentieth century have rendered people vulnerable and made murder more commonplace. This phenomenon will be explored through three figures: the Central American migrant, the recruits of drug cartels and the bystander.
Ignacio M. Sánchez Prado, Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies, received a Licenciatura (B.A.) in Literature from the Universidad de las Américas-Puebla in Mexico, and a Ph.D. in Hispanic Languages and Literatures from the University of Pittsburgh. His areas of research include Mexican literary, film and cultural studies; Latin American intellectual history; and comparative literature. He is the author of Naciones intelectuales. Las fundaciones de la modernidad literaria mexicana (1917-1959) (2009), which was winner of the LASA Mexico 2010 Book Award, Intermitencias americanistas. Estudios y ensayos escogidos (2004-2010) (2012), and Screening Neoliberalism. Mexican Cinema 1988-2012 (2014), which will appear in Spanish translation in late 2016. He is currently completing a book entitled Strategic Occidentalism. World Literature and Post-1968 Fiction.
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Series Funders and Co-Sponsors: UF Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere (Rothman Endowment), UF Smathers Libraries, UF Office of Research, School of Art + Art History's Harn Eminent Scholar Lecture Series, UF International Center, UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, UF Department of History, UF Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, UF Center for Latin American Studies, UF Department of Religion, Alachua County Library District, UF College of Veterinary Medicine, UF Digital Worlds Institute, UF Honors Program.
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