Scribner Seminar Program
Narcocultures: Drugs, Power and Culture in Latin America
Instructor(s): Maria Lander, Foreign Language and LiteraturesIn the US these days Latin America is inextricably linked with the illegal drug trade, and with the US's so-called war on drugs. The media routinely relate scenes of mass carnage brought about by drug traffickers and stereotypical images of "narcos" abound in television, movies and literature. The lived reality in Latin America of the drug trade is indeed violent but infinitely more complex than perhaps the US media is able to represent, and has produced a large body of film, literature and music that attempts to make sense of this brutal reality. We will study these works to show how narcoculture has indelibly shaped the societies it inhabits, transforming the economic, political and cultural life of entire cities and even countries (Medellín, Colombia, or Ciudad Juárez, Mexico), and producing waves of unspeakable violence in both the US and Latin America. Students will approach "narcocultures" from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives. They will also learn to study cultural productions through the parallel study of cultural artifacts with complementary readings on ethics, politics, law and sociology. Further, students will be required to think critically and challenge the preconceptions that they might have regarding the course topics.