The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Student Profiles

Hector Bezares Buenrostro

Project title: The War on Drugs in Mexico:  power and everyday violence

Supervisors:  Dr. Kyle Grayson

The War on Drugs (WoD) in Mexico constructs the world as permanent and intense conflict between law and disorder. In this regard, it enables the material and ideological resources to govern the spaces and identities performed around the prohibition of drugs, constructing violent forms of mediation in urban and rural settings alike to manage individuals and populations. To this extent, the WoD in Mexico, as a form of exerting power is productive of spatial arrangements that enables the classification, separation, and organisation of the conduct of Mexican citizens. In such a way it has demarcated and communicated informal taxonomies regarding zones of circulation where drug traffickers, undocumented migrants and citizens are being transformed into terrorists and insurgents. The acceptance of these informal zones and classifications by citizens and police agencies produce the spaces in which the use of force –coercive and kinetic- becomes possible; the articulation of these spaces as ‘dangerous’ or ‘risky also expresses understandings of how and where state-imposed violence should be exerted and based on these understandings violence is prolonged and escalated as well as people’ behaviour is constrained.

The political effects of these spatial arrangements are, among others: the reorganization of the senses, the configuration of mental maps and topographic redistributions according to the territorial logics prescribed by those notions. Remarkable cases of these effects are the extension of behaviours such as self-imposed curfews, travel movement strategies, and area avoidance as well as political antagonism that may result from the establishment of discourses of victimization or even counter-violence.

Informed by Foucault’s notion of government, as well as by his explanation of the micropractices of disciplining of individuals, the bio-political management of populations, and the further concept of governmentality, this work aims to describe the spatiality of the exertion of power under the WoD. Accordingly, the central research question is 'how does power exerted through the WOD shape the political organisation of the spaces of everyday violence in Mexico?