From cuaz to cuate: Training camps for organized crime

For years now - more or less the entire duration of my doctoral studies - I have been intrigued by the fact that some organized crime groups in Mexico operate training camps. In one form or another, I worked this in to most of my course papers. Once I was done with coursework and working… Continue reading From cuaz to cuate: Training camps for organized crime

A narco-list of narco-fied narco-words

Last year, I assembled a database of narco-messages. Towards the end of this process, while I was poring over articles from a Guadalajara-based newspaper, I decided to keep track of the narco-fied terms that I came across. These articles were from the early years of the war on narco-trafficking (which started in December 2006), when… Continue reading A narco-list of narco-fied narco-words

Digging into the nota roja

When I am out and about during field research, I invariably have a roll of papers under my arm. If I don't have a roll of papers, it is only because I'm en route to raid one of the local newsstands. The roll of papers is usually a mix of weekly or monthly political magazines,… Continue reading Digging into the nota roja

Relational conferencing?

The end of May saw me rolling up to Boston for the Latin American Studies Association annual conference. This was a monster conference, with hundreds of panels sprawling across four days and two hotels. It was also a very good conference. For all the daunting size of the event, it was easy to find and… Continue reading Relational conferencing?

After almost two years, an introduction

I started this site and this blog almost two years ago, while conducting preliminary research in Mexico City. The site started out with the briefest of intros, and a "coming soon" research section, and a short post about the importance of on-the-ground research (which was also an expression of how good it felt to finally… Continue reading After almost two years, an introduction

Poverty, inevitability, and synthetic clothing

When I arrived back in Mexico City in January, everyone was talking about the lines for gas. Recently-inaugurated president López Obrador shut down parts of the national oil and gas distribution network to combat oil theft. I enjoyed the memes doing the rounds, but didn't think too much more about gas. In the days after… Continue reading Poverty, inevitability, and synthetic clothing

A month of farfetching

During the winter break, while New York was shivering through a polar vortex, I slipped away to the City of Eternal Spring for a month of research. With Cuernavaca as much as one hundred degrees (Fahrenheit, calm down) warmer than New York, it was a rather good choice. I equipped myself with fiction and non-fiction… Continue reading A month of farfetching

Violence as a message / Violence plus a message

I study a phenomenon that, according to the prevailing paradigm in scholarship on violence, really shouldn't exist. The huge volume of work that seeks to identify logics underpinning seemingly random or inexplicably brutal acts of violence very often explain these excesses in terms of their communicative value. Perpetrating violence is a costly signal; perpetrating grotesquely… Continue reading Violence as a message / Violence plus a message

Reflections on teaching Politics of Central America

I considered myself pretty luck to have the chance to teach an entire course on Central America this semester. The course did not disappoint; every space on the roster filled, and twice a week I shared a classroom with a great group of students. Their questions and perspectives on the course material kept me on… Continue reading Reflections on teaching Politics of Central America