Since former Mexican president Felipe Calderón’s 2006 declaration of a “war on drugs,” a brutal and escalating violence has saturated life in Mexico to a degree not seen since the revolution of a century ago. Provoking a wide range of responses in Mexican popular culture, this phenomenon reaches the United States, Europe, and Latin America in ways that are complex and difficult to perceive.
Rather than an aberration from an otherwise prevailing order, the situation can be considered the excrescence of a cruel assemblage of migration, normalized corruption, organized crime, disintegrating state power, and the international trade of drugs and arms. Narco-Capitalism. Mexico on the Brink is the collaborative project of cultural theorist Sylvère Lotringer, and documentary filmmaker Jesse Lerner with journalist and author Sergio Gonzaléz Rodríguez. Using documentaries, photojournalism, original interviews, observational footage, popular music, and low-budget films, the participants will examine a host of questions over three sessions designed to unpack the intersections of extreme violence, the atrophy of the state, and narco-culture. The first session focuses on Ciudad Juárez, a “lawless” border city in northern Mexico; the second probes what happens when drug traffickers become powerful enough to influence policy; and the final session explores responses to the drug trade: from narcocorridos to genre films, Chilean novelist Roberto Bolano’s 2666, and more.