The Affective and Emotional Geographies of the Secondary Witnesses of Drug-Related Violence in Sinaloa, Mexico
AdvisorBanister, Jeffrey M.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractDuring the last three decades, Mexican drug-trafficking organizations have expanded their operations in North America, while drug-related violence has intensified in different regions in Mexico. Since 2006, more than 100,000 people have died as a result of the constant re-organization of Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs), as well as a national security strategy that aims to reduce their power through direct confrontation. Drug-related violence is affecting the lives and livelihoods of Mexican citizens who get caught between the conflicts, and who are not always accounted for in the official data on victims. Drawing on postcolonial theory, affect theory, the growing field of emotional geographies, and critical studies of trauma, this dissertation examines the effects of drug-related violence on secondary witnesses—that is psychologists, social workers, and journalists—based in the northwest Mexican city of Culiacán, the state capital of Sinaloa. This group represents a small sample of ordinary citizens whose daily work brings them into regular contact with some of the outcomes of violence as it relates to the so-called drug wars and its politics—what some have referred to as necropolitics and narcopolitics. Through the analysis of open-ended interviews, findings show that the secondary witnesses of drug-related violence in Culiacán are experiencing symptoms of Secondary Traumatic Stress. At the same time, they are coping with those effects through individual and collective strategies that result from a long-term social and spatial proximity with the phenomenon. In this sense, drug-related violence is a spatial phenomenon that produces traumatic events where affective and emotional effects are collected and stored as traumatic memories. Those memories are critical to understanding the symptoms of job-related stress affecting the secondary witnesses of drug-related violence, as well as the creation and development of coping strategies. The findings of this research are significant for efforts to improve the mental and emotional health of ordinary citizens who inform and offer care and support to the multiple victims of violence in Mexico.
Degree ProgramGraduate College