This article analyzes the unease created in northern Mexico by the prevalence of “narco-accusations,” which single out individuals suspected of being drug traffickers. The official discourse to justify the Mexican government’s unwillingness to investigate the majority of the 235,000 murders created by the “war on drugs” since 2006 is that the deaths consist of “narcos killing each other off.” However, as a result of the profound interlocking of legal and illegal sectors, most forms of livelihood in the borderlands are potentially implicated in the drug economy. Therefore, the way that deaths are dismissed when labeled as those of “narcos” produces a particular discomfort among people working at the blurry edges of the narco-economy. By analyzing these experiences through the lens of “the uncanny” this article argues that the subject position of the narco is not just derivative of a set of political discourses but a powerful way that people attempt to distance themselves, and their loved ones, from violence.
The Narco Uncanny
Shaylih Muehlmann is associate professor of anthropology and Canada Research Chair in Language, Culture, and the Environment at the University of British Columbia. She is the author of Where the River Ends (2013) and When I Wear My Alligator Boots (2014). In 2016 she was inducted into the Royal Society of Canada.
Shaylih Muehlmann; The Narco Uncanny. Public Culture 1 May 2020; 32 (2 (91)): 327–348. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-8090101
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