Disputed Sovereignties: Rarámuri Self-Determination, State Sovereignty, and Drug Trafficking in the Tarahumara Region, Northern Mexico


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Latin American Studies


This project examines how drug trafficking in the Tarahumara region, northern Mexico, transforms Rarámuri everyday life; how the Rarámuri imagine and articulate their self-determination in the face of this neo-colonial relationship, and how the Mexican state and drug trafficking organizations have interacted with that imagining. “Disputed Sovereignties” argues that drug trafficking actors enact a kind of sovereignty based on the historical processes of racialization that continue to define Rarámuri space and people as colonized subjects. Drug traffickers’ claims to sovereignty fall in line with the ideology of mestizaje, which organizes the nation according to a hierarchy predicated on mestizo rule over indigenous people, their land and their resources. Therefore, drug trafficking organizations’ claims to sovereignty are grounded in these broader colonial relations, rather their ability to mimic the state. As such, this project sheds new light on the little-recognized relationship between colonialism, race, power and drug trafficking.