Activism in regions of crime-related violence and institutional fragility

The support of the Economic and Social Research Council is gratefully acknowledged.

The Mexican state of Michoacán is a region with high levels of crime-related violence, alongside a range of institutional failings including criminal infiltration. Neither government nor national and transnational NGOs have been able to make much headway.

The project focuses on activism, which we understand as practices aimed at changing “the rules of the game” to achieve a more just society. In such difficult contexts, activists are themselves often subject to intimidation and hindered by the institutional failings. Despite this, we have sought to find initiatives that, even on a small scale, demonstrate the potential to achieve changes for the better.

The team includes seven researchers (anthropologists and sociologists) with research experience in risky contexts. During 2017 and 2018, we sought out activists in different areas of the state. Through a series of techniques such as structured interviews, direct observation in meetings and assemblies, we sought to understand their initiatives. In analyzing the field material, we are assisted by an additional two London-based researchers, one a political scientist (Pilar Domingo) and the other a criminologist (Sasha Jesperson).

The project runs from November 2016 to July 2019. In 2017, we carried out field work in seven regions of Michoacán. In 2018, we analyzed our findings and began to disseminate and prepare publications. Finally, in 2019:

  • We will publish 3 academic books, as well as participating in academic conferences and related events.
  • We will elaborate a series of policy- and strategy-relevant documents recommendations aimed at social organizations and government agencies.

The project is financed by the Economic and Social Research Council in agreement with the Mexican research council CONACyT, through the University of Aberdeen in collaboration with El Colegio de Michoacán and Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas.

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Hay una versión en español aquí.

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