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From narcotrafficking to alternative governance: An ethnographic study on Los Caballeros Templarios and the mutation of organized crime in Michoacán, Mexico

Ernst, Falko (2015) From narcotrafficking to alternative governance: An ethnographic study on Los Caballeros Templarios and the mutation of organized crime in Michoacán, Mexico. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

In this thesis, I unpack the mutation of Mexican organized crime by providing insights of unprecedented depth into one of the field’s principal actors of the past decade, Los Caballeros Templarios (The Knights Templar, LCT). My elaborations are based on firsthand qualitative data. During a year of fieldwork, I conducted ethnographic research in LCT’s core operational territory of Tierra Caliente, Michoacán, including interviews with LCT’s leaders and local civilians. Drawing on these data, I situate LCT as a phenomenon deeply engrained in the liquefaction and reshuffling of social order, governance, and sovereignty in Mexico and other parts of the ‘global south’. In this setting, the problem of survival is as eminent for non-­‐state armed actors as it is for state actors. Upon revisiting historical transformations of Michoacán organized crime, I analyze how LCT sought to secure permanence through a hybrid form of criminal agency that defies default approaches to organized crime. The group perceived a minimum degree of legitimacy as crucial to control over locally rooted resources and thus survival. I argue that this drove the construction of a project of alternative governance; in essence a ceremonially enacted narrative portraying LCT as a guardian of social order. By contrasting ‘official’ claims with the lived experiences of civilians, I examine the latter’s performance and impact on local communities and lives. Furthermore, and as opposed to the predominant reduction of state-­‐organized crime-­‐ interactions (in Mexico) to violent antagonism, LCT did not pursue its project of alternative governance against or without the state per se. Rather, I contend, higher-­‐level state actors and LCT converged in the production of a trans-­‐legal order. The state’s symbolic-­‐legal façade is here carried by actors standing on either side of the binary licit-­‐illicit-­‐divide, which acts as a veil for shared access to resources stereotypically exclusive to ‘the’ state.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Mexico, Michoacán, Organised Crime, Alternative Governance, Ethnography, Los Caballeros Templarios, State Corruption
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Falko Ernst
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2016 15:34
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2018 01:00
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/16503

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