Allegheny College’s Mattiace to Discuss Mexican Drug Cartels, Violence

Shannan Mattiace will explore “Indigenous Resistance to Drug Violence in Mexico,” as part of the Karl Weiss Faculty Lecture Series. The talk will be held on Wednesday, March 8, at 7 p.m. in Room 301/302 of the Henderson Campus Center. It is free and open to the public.

Mattiace is the chair of the Political Science Department at Allegheny, with a focus on Latin America. She is currently working with Guillermo Trejo, an associate professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame, and Sandra Ley, assistant professor at the Center for Economic Research in Mexico City, to shed light on what experiences within indigenous communities facilitate resistance to criminal organizations, in the hope that policy changes will ensue.

“I have known Guillermo Trejo since 1990, and I have been working with indigenous communities in Mexico since 1994, focused on questions of political and social organization,” Mattiace said. “It seemed natural to extend this work into the area of (in)security and criminal violence, which is the number one problem Mexico faces at present. Approximately 150,000 people have died in Mexico since the beginning of the so-called drug war in 2006 and at least 25,000 have disappeared.”

The talk will take a closer look at Mexico’s inter-cartel wars, as well as overall levels of violence, and the connection to the drug trade. Mattiace’s project draws on fieldwork done in Chihuahua and Guerrero to contrast the two cities. Guerrero is an area with an empowered indigenous community which enables them to deter drug cartels, while Chihuahua has a weaker indigenous mobilizing network, which was easily penetrated by the drug trade and now suffers from turf wars in the community.

“We argue that Indian communities with a long history of indigenous mobilization that have developed regional ethnic autonomy institutions experience lower levels of criminal violence than those without mobilization networks and no regional autonomous institutions,” Mattiace said.

The Karl Weiss Faculty Lecture Series hosts seven to eight lectures per year by faculty members from various departments with the intent to represent the diversity of scholarship at Allegheny.