Salt, Light, and Cocaine: Religious Civil Society and Narco-Violence in Mexico's Border Region




Potts, Richard

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Latin America’s rising indices of criminality make it now one of the world’s most troubled regions. In 2016, 43 of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world were in Latin America, and one-third of the world’s murders now occur there. Mexico is a case of particular interest where narco-violence has claimed nearly 200,000 lives. Mexico is also one of the world’s most religious nations, creating a jarring panorama of religious fervor and lawlessness. This dissertation investigates cases of this overlap to identify contributions and prospects of religious actors within civil society and to account for religion’s uniquely powerful ability to shape identity and action. This dissertation does so by presenting original first-person ethnographic observation and analysis of three religion-based civil society organizations that have mobilized to resist the violence in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.



Political science, International relations, Civil society, Mexico, Organized crime, Peacemaking, Religion, Violence