Dr. Oswaldo Zavala discusses his book “The Cartels Don’t Exist” in which he examines the questionable narrative that the Mexican drug cartels are in control of the government. In fact, he points to evidence that it is the U.S. and Mexican security state apparatus managing the drug cartels. He deconstructs how the state’s false narrative of being the victim of the cartels then is reproduced by mass media, ambitious but naive journalists, film (e.g. Netflix’s Narcos, Sicario, Infierno), popular literature, telenovelas and soap operas.
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About the Guest
Oswaldo Zavala (Ciudad Juárez, 1975) is Professor of contemporary Latin American literature and culture with a joint appointment at the College of Staten Island and at The Graduate Center, both institutions part of the City University of New York (CUNY). His work explores post-national imaginaries, representations of violence at the US-Mexico border, and the exhaustion of discourses on modernity in the Latin American narrative of the last two decades.
He is the author of “Los cárteles no existen. Narcotráfico y cultura en México” (Malpaso 2018), “Volver a la modernidad. Genealogías de la literatura mexicana de fin de siglo” (Albatros 2017) and “La modernidad insufrible. Roberto Bolaño en los límites de la literatura latinoamericana contemporánea” (NCSRLL 2015). He also co-edited: with Magdalena Perkowska (Hunter College and The Graduate Center, CUNY), “Tiranas ficciones: política y poética de la obra de Horacio Castellanos Moya” (Pittsburgh: IILI, Antonio Cornejo Polar Series, 2018); with Viviane Mahieux (University of California at Irvine) “Tierras de nadie. El norte en la narrativa mexicana contemporánea” (México: Tierra Adentro, 2012) and with José Ramón Ruisánchez (University of Houston) “Materias dispuestas: Juan Villoro ante la crítica” (Barcelona: Candaya, 2011).
His article “Imagining the US-Mexico Drug War: The Critical Limits of Narconarratives,” obtained the 2015 award for Best Essay in the Humanities granted by the Mexico Section of the Latin American Studies Association. He received an honorable mention in Mexico’s 2017 National Journalism Award for his essay “Nada que ver en la frontera del narco. Los imagentextos de Julián Cardona.”
*Podcast intro music is from the song “The Queens Jig” by “Musicke & Mirth” from their album “Music for Two Lyra Viols”: https://musicke-mirth.de/en/recordings.html (available on iTunes or Amazon)