When I defended my dissertation proposal, I set a rather familiar and somewhat arbitrary start date for the database that I wanted to build. Violence in Mexico is generally understood to have spiked sharply with the start of Felipe Calderón's presidency, and his declaration of war against organized crime in December 2006. During the proposal… Continue reading Where to begin?
Since arriving in Mexico I have been steadily building a database of narcomensajes. Over the course of several months, and working with different media sources, that base has grown by the thousands. It was never very clear, however, just how many messages I could expect to find. By one very rough estimate, I thought I… Continue reading Comparing databases (and discovering just how far I have to go) →
For the first three months of my field research, I pored over online newspaper archives, adding data to a growing spreadsheet of narco-messages (narcomensajes or narcomantas). I developed a habit, and spent two hours almost every morning adding data points, before returning for at least another hour in the afternoon. Having located a few excellent… Continue reading “I had not thought death had undone so many” →
A core part of my research involves the collection of data on the narcomensajes that have been appearing in Mexico since about 2006. Ideally, that data includes information about where and when the messages appear, contextual information such as whether the messages appear at a crime scene, and a full transcription of each message. There are… Continue reading The perfect source, and its difficulties →