Drug Violence, Fear of Crime, and the Transformation of Everyday Life in the Mexican Metropolis
Ana Villarreal, Sociology, University of California-Berkeley
Dissertation Fellowship, 2014
My dissertation, “Drug Violence, Fear of Crime and the Transformation of Everyday Life in the Mexican Metropolis,” is an ethnography of how and why increased criminal violence and fear have prompted a new form of urban seclusion and governance in contemporary Latin America. Most of the research we have on violence and urban inequality focuses on the living conditions of the urban poor in favelas, barrios marginados, and the inner-city. In stark contrast, this book examines the impact of a tidal wave of gruesome violence on one of Latin America’s wealthiest cities: San Pedro in Monterrey, Mexico. As a San Pedro native, I had unique access to observe the responses of the wealthy to horrific criminal turf wars over cocaine and human trafficking routes in recent years. In brief, the upper class leveraged private and state resources to make of San Pedro a city-within-a-city.
The upper class is not only relying on private security, but on the public security apparatus to create an "armored city" in detriment of the rest of the metropolis.
A similar phenomenon took place in Caracas in the aftermath of the violent riots of the Caracazo in 1989 when the upper class created the municipality of Chacao. Although researchers have shown that the upper class is more and more likely to enclose living, leisure and work spaces in Latin America and beyond, these cases are different. Here, the upper class is not only relying on private security, but on the public security apparatus to create an “armored city” in detriment of the rest of the metropolis. This book will make a unique contribution to the fields of urban and political sociology by revealing this new pattern of exacerbated urban inequality raising new challenges for urban inclusion and democracy in Latin America.
- Villarreal, Ana. 2015. "Fear and the Spectacular Drug Violence in Monterrey" in Violence at the Urban Margins, edited by Javier Auyero, Phillipe Bourgois, and Nancy Scheper-Hughes. Oxford University Press.