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 transformed the forms publicness could take, altering assumptions about freedom of expression and the rules of public participation. Amaya examines the practices of narcocorridos musicians, who take advantage of digital production and distribution technologies to escape Mexican censors and to share music across the U.S.-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 U.S-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 the way we think about and study contemporary U.S.-Mexico relations.”
Josh Kun, author 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