Narcoculture in Mexico and the United States

Book Pages: 280 Illustrations: 7 illustrations Published: May 2020

Author: Hector Amaya

American Studies, Latin American Studies > Mexico, Media Studies > Communication

In Trafficking Hector Amaya examines how the dramatic escalation of drug violence in Mexico in 2008 prompted new forms of participation in public culture in Mexico and the United States. He contends that, by becoming a site of national and transnational debate about the role of the state, this violence altered the modes publicness could take, transforming assumptions about freedom of expression and the rules of public participation. Amaya examines the practices of narcocorrido musicians who take advantage of digital production and distribution technologies to escape Mexican censors and to share music across the US-Mexico border, as well as anonymous bloggers whose coverage of trafficking and violence from a place of relative safety made them public heroes. These new forms of being in the public sphere, Amaya demonstrates, evolved to exceed the bounds of the state and traditional media sources, signaling the inadequacy of democratic theories of freedom and publicness to understand how violence shapes public discourse.


Trafficking is a vital and critically sophisticated study of US-Mexico politics and culture at a time of great political and social urgency for the communities, economies, and lives that Hector Amaya theorizes and examines. Turning our attention to the ways in which the trafficking of violence is restructuring life on both sides of the border, Amaya makes a significant contribution to how we think about and study contemporary US-Mexico relations.” — Josh Kun, editor of The Tide Was Always High: The Music of Latin America in Los Angeles

“Hector Amaya's weighty, ambitious book sheds new light on the plague of violence around trafficking networks between Mexico and the United States by taking it seriously as a deep philosophical problem. Trafficking's scope is breathtaking; it is first-rate scholarship that makes an important intervention into an essential topic of our time.” — Joshua Lund, author of The Mestizo State: Reading Race in Modern Mexico

“Amaya’s book … helps readers understand [drug-related violence in Mexico] in relation to narcoculture, digital and social media, and theories of the public sphere. But his analysis works both ways: Mexico’s troubles expose the flaws in conventional thinking about publicity, the state, and securitization. Trafficking proves an indispensable conceptual tool for a world teetering on the edge of a fascist future, in which we will all be far from heaven.” — Susan Zieger, ALH Online Review


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Price: $26.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Hector Amaya is Professor of Communication at the University of Southern California and author of Citizenship Excess: Latino/as, Media, and the Nation and Screening Cuba: Film Criticism as Political Performance during the Cold War.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Prologue  vii
Introduction. Trafficking, Publicness, and Violence  1
1. Prelude to Two Wars  25
2. Almost Failing: Violence, Space, and Discourse  57
3. Censoring Narcoculture: Mexican Republicanism and Publicity  91
4. Narcocorridos in the USA: Deterritorialization and the Business of Authenticity  124
5. Bloody Blogs: Publicity and Opacity  158
6. Trust: The Burden of Civics  192
Conclusion. Publicity's Contingent Insularity  213
Notes  225
References  235
Index  251
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0804-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0764-7