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A Laboratory for the Drug Wars: The Invention of the "Juárez Cartel"


A Laboratory for the Drug Wars: The Invention of the "Juárez Cartel"

Mexican Studies Seminar | Spring 2019

A Laboratory for the Drug Wars: The Invention of the "Juárez Cartel" in the Era of National Security


Oswaldo Zavala

College of Staten Island & City University of New York (CUNY)

The 1990s were significant years in the construction of the “narco” imaginary that transformed the sociopolitical landscape in Mexico in the following decades. This presentation examines some of the key institutions, events, cultural products and protagonists on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border that collectively articulated a “national security” narrative. I argue that this narrative was the necessary step to justify the militarization of the country that ultimately left over 250,000 dead and 40,000 forced disappearances. I will focus on the symbolic invention of the “Juárez Cartel” and its centrality as a cultural and political signifier in the epistemological platform for Mexico’s “drug wars.”

Oswaldo Zavala is Professor of contemporary Latin American literature and culture at the College of Staten Island and at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). He is the author of La modernidad insufrible. Roberto Bolaño en los límites de la literatura latinoamericana contemporánea (2015), Volver a la modernidad. Genealogías de la literatura mexicana de fin de siglo (2017) and Los cárteles no existen. Narcotráfico y cultura en México (2018). He co-edited, with Viviane Mahieux, Tierras de nadie: el norte en la narrativa mexicana contemporánea (2012); with José Ramón Ruisánchez, Materias dispuestas: Juan Villoro ante la crítica (2011); and with Magdalena Perkowska, Tiranas ficciones. Poética y política de la escritura en la obra de Horacio Castellanos Moya (2018). He has published more than 40 articles on contemporary Latin American narrative, the U.S.-Mexico border, and the link between violence, culture and late capitalism. His article “Imagining the US-Mexico Drug War: The Critical Limits of Narconarratives” won the 2015 Humanities Essay Award of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) Mexico Section. He is a frequent collaborator of Proceso, Mexico’s leading political magazine.

Lunch will be provided for those who register in advance.

More information: NzczICEgODM0ICEgMTk4N21leGljYW5zdHVkaWVzIHwgdWNoaWNhZ28gISBlZHU=

Map John Hope Franklin Room 224, 1126 E 59th St, Chicago, United States
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Katz Center for Mexican Studies at the University of Chicago