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Narco Realism in Contemporary Mexican and Transnational Narrative, Film, and Online Media

Nielsen, Christopher J (2014) Narco Realism in Contemporary Mexican and Transnational Narrative, Film, and Online Media. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation theorizes the political meaning of contemporary “narco narratives” from or about Mexico. It challenges “the narco-realist thesis,” that is, the increasingly common notion that the Mexican drug trade/war constitutes a privileged framework for interpreting Latin America as a whole. The novels, films, and online media analyzed hereing avoid the narco-realist reduction of the Hemisphere to the image of a Narco-Mexico and instead set themselves the task, at once subtler and more ambitious, of using themes of drugs and violence as a kind of magnifying glass through which to perceive, for instance, the nature of power and violence in general or even the ontological basis of reality itself. “Chapter One” equates aesthetics with ontology and explores the inherently narcotic nature of power and sovereignty in Trabajos del Reino by Yuri Herrera and La vida es sueño Pedro Calderón de la Barca. The second and third chapters expand definition of “narco narrative” by exploring “pharmacological” themes and concepts in narratives about Mexico but not directly related to drug trafficking or violence. “Chapter Two” offers analyzes how Jorge Baradit's neo-fantasy novel Ygdrasil contributes to the critique of the common apocalyptic interpretation of drug-related violence in Mexico, suggesting that any real apocalypse would derive from capitalism, not the supposedly radical evil of narcos. In “Chapter Three,” Bernard Stiegler's “pharmacological critique” of capitalism is used to analyze the political ontology of late capitalism in the films of US Latino director Alex Rivera. “Chapter Four” theorizes and the role of the environment in grass-roots resistance to cartel violence as manifested in Youtube video testimonies by drawing on theories of “object-oriented ontology.”


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Nielsen, Christopher
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDuchesne-Winter, Juanduchesne@pitt.eduDUCHESNE
Committee MemberBeverley, Johnbrq@pitt.eduBRQ
Committee MemberLund, Joshuajkl7@pitt.eduJKL7
Committee MemberMecchia, Giuseppinamecchia@pitt.eduMECCHIA
Date: 24 September 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 28 April 2014
Approval Date: 24 September 2014
Submission Date: 14 August 2014
Access Restriction: 4 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 4 years.
Number of Pages: 169
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Hispanic Languages and Literatures
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Narco Literature, Mexico, Contemporary Latin America, Political Economy, Ontology
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2014 16:51
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2018 05:15


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