Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and the international community are hailing the strides Mexico is making in confronting its serious and well-known security problems. The recent capture of notorious drug trafficker Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman of the Sinaloa Cartel made splashy headlines and played endless news cycles. Official homicide rates in border towns such as Ciudad Juarez have significantly reduced from a 2011 peak. In the Spring, the government reached an agreement with vigilante groups in the state of Michoacan aimed at disarmament and demobilization. These steps to advance traditional “state security” concerns have gone hand-in-hand with constitutional reforms to achieve gains in economic security, hoping to assure foreign investors that Mexico is a safe and secure foreign investment opportunity. If Mexico is more secure, why do citizens express a growing sense of insecurity, especially in areas rich in the resources that are the hinge of Mexico’s new wave of economic transformation? A phenomenon I call the “paradox of patrimony” demonstrates that those who live and work in the midst of Mexico’s most valuable and strategic “national” resources (such as the oil-affected region of Mexico’s Gulf coast) are experiencing a newly found sense of insecurity and vulnerability.
Deborah A. Thomas (Penn)
On 24 May 2010, Jamaican police and military forces entered the community of Tivoli Gardens in West Kingston in order to apprehend Christopher “Dudus” Coke, purported leader of the Shower Posse and “don” of the community, but by the end of the week, Dudus had not yet been found and at least 73 civilians had been killed. Despite the activities of various civil society organizations and the release in April of an interim report by the Public Defender, those who lost their lives have not yet been publicly recognized, and officials and individuals responsible for these deaths have not yet been called to account. Since January this year, I have been working collaboratively on a multi-media installation project designed to provide a platform through which participating Tivoli Gardens and neighboring community members can recount their experiences during May and June 2010, and name and publicly memorialize loved ones they lost. The project is meant to contribute to a healing process in which historical silences are broken through audio and visual forms of storytelling, while also contributing to theoretical analyses of the relationships between spectacular and everyday forms of violence, the production of visual archives, and the gendered dimensions of witnessing.
In this paper, I focus on how bearing witness to state violence can give us windows into the world of the everyday in two senses. First, by listening to people recount what happened to them and what the effects have been, we get a sense of the everyday forms of structural violence that both provide the foundation for the exceptional eruption and shape how they experience aftermaths. And second, we can read between the lines of these kinds of testimonies in order to also understand how people have negotiated processes of governance, histories of simultaneous marginalization and exceptional excellence, and aspirations for themselves and their families. I am particularly interested, here, in the ways attention to the sphere of intimacy – the small, domestic, pedestrian stories – both gives us a window into the gendered dimensions of spectacular and structural violence, and produces particular desires related to social and political life.
João Costa Vargas (UT)
10/23/2013 * in Rm. 345
What gives coherence to police pacifying operations preceding the 2013 Confederations Cup, the 2014 World Cup, and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro? How do narratives of security and development gain added meaning when explored through their linkages to narratives of modernization and blackness? Drawing on long-term ethnography and collaborative work with Black organizations in Brazil and the United States, this talk engages these questions by providing an analysis of the contested geographies in Rio.