I am a doctoral candidate in political science at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and an adjunct instructor at Hunter College. I research and teach about violence and crime, and the impact of these on the public, primarily in Latin America. My most recent course focused on Central America, and on linking civil war and revolution in the 70s and 80s to political trends in the region today.
My dissertation project is a close examination of the phenomenon of narco-messages in Mexico. A lot of great scholarship examines trends in violence in Mexico; I focus on trends in language. Narco-messages are a fairly new occurrence (I trace them back to 2004), and contradict the general expectation that organized crime prefers to keep a low profile and to work through discrete, informal communication. The use of narco-messages suggests that criminal groups in Mexico are developing a new approach to public relations, and to controlling public space and public discourse. This has worrying consequences for public life in the country, and broader implications for how we understand contemporary organized crime – particularly in urban Latin America.
Field work for this project has taken me to Mexico in 2017, 2018, and now again in 2019. While based in Mexico City, I constructed a database of over 6,000 narco-messages. These data derive from 10 media sources, and a government database. I have now shifted my field work focus to interviews and collection of other media – primarily based in Cuernavaca (a small city and state capital of Morelos).
Other work on Mexico looks at connections between the military and trends in criminal violence. Narco-messages pop up in this study, too.
A side project (currently quite a long way off to the side) looks at sites and systems of detention in the War on Terror, particularly the camps at Guantánamo Bay.