Journal of International and Global Studies


This essay describes the cultural effects of drug trafficking on a town in rural Mexico. A variety of ethnographic scenes reveal the rapidly changing social imagination as new forms of consumption create new opportunities for identity formation. However, because these new consumer forms are expensive, and therefore inaccessible to the majority of community members, a type of cultural exclusion is at work. In this ordinary town, there are extraordinary forms of consumption: large, lavish houses; high-stakes gambling at local cockfights; a new urban-oriented consumer culture; and new farmer entrepreneurs. All were underwritten by narco-activities. These new forms of consumption challenge and subvert older, stable forms of hierarchy and status. Individuals with access to these forms of consumption have new types of economic, cultural and social capital privilege, and such access legitimizes their status and power. The article closes by considering the implications of the rising levels of violence in Mexico’s interior and the potential that we are seeing the initial stages of a civil war.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.