Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2019
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Latin American Studies
Disputed Sovereignty: Indigenous Autonomy and Drug Trafficking in the Tarahumara Mountain

In the last twenty years, indigenous organization in the Tarahumara region, in the north of Mexico, has been impacted by drug trafficking groups who are exercising new forms of territorial control, and demanding to be recognized as a new arbiter of justice, contesting state sovereignty and indigenous autonomies. What is the relationship between drug trafficking in the Tarahumara region and colonial structures linked with white supremacy and masculinity? How is drug trafficking reproducing and/or contesting those colonial racial and patriarchal structures? This research is approaching these questions drawing on a multi-sited activist research powered by ethnographic evidence collected during eight years working in the region as a legal adviser and as an activist researcher. I am showing how in the Tarahumara case, indigenous governability and autonomy are invoked and given meaning not just in relation to state sovereignty, but in relation to drug trafficking groups as other sources of power and sovereignty that is affecting indigenous government, territories and bodies. I am analyzing how drug trafficking groups are perpetrating new ways of territorial dispossession, transforming the exercise of indigenous autonomy, and using indigenous women bodies as messages in response to indigenous collective defense of territory and natural resources against dispossession perpetrated by drug trafficking groups. My research is opening a new field in sovereignty studies, and transforming the field of legal anthropology.