Society for Cultural Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Scholars across disciplines have in recent years explored social life through concepts that highlight an attention to potentiality, such as becoming and affect (Biehl and Locke 2017; Deleuze and Guattari 1987; Massumi 2015; Stewart 2007). Mexico’s explosion of violence, within its “war on drug trafficking” of the past 12 years, makes it a key site for exploring flux, indeterminacy and open-endedness. Indeed, as Angela Garcia (2017) has posited, this country’s intensifying violence is condition and practice of becoming, which involves a tension between destruction and creation. Many works on affect and becoming have an ambiguous relation to signification, given the latter’s capacity, alongside power, to foreclose the fluidity they seek to track and theorize (Deleuze and Guattari 1987). In contrast, this paper argues that discourse can also become a site permeated with potentiality. It will explore the ways in which the latencies of potential futures are being delineated in the field of mass mediated representations of Mexico’s violence. The multiplicity of communicative forms that circulate across different media project things as disparate as personal experiences of suffering or the commodified appeal of drug trafficking culture, making vastly distinct claims on what defines the “drug war.” In this heterogeneous field, representations of violence are thus geared toward eliciting affective responses of diverse duration, sharedness, and intensity that may help to cultivate starkly distinct attunements and dispositions towards others’ pain. This paper thus argues that a key aspect of the potentiality of violence are the contingencies involved in its mass mediation.