Appearances and lectures

“Elecciones en Europa y xenofobia”, Aristegui Noticias, March 15, 2017.

“La devoción a la Santa Muerte: crisis y violencia en México”, El Colegio de México, June 14, 2016. 

“Nabestaanden Mexicaanse studenten geven niet op”, Nieuwsuur, May 17, 2015.

“The Devotion to Santa Muerte: Crisis Violence and popular religiosity in Mexico”, Lecture at University of Sussex, February 24, 2015.

In the midst of an expanding humanitarian crisis in Mexico, where drugs-related and political killings are a daily event with the exposure of corpuses and mass graves, Mexicans find new forms to deal with uncertainty, violence and death. Perhaps the most remarkable resource from this process, is the devotion to Santa Muerte, the skeleton saint. The image blends Catholic iconography and rituality with pre-Hispanic representations of the underworld, voodoo, heavy-metal, and the lifestyle of drug-traffickers. Until the late 1990s, Santa Muerte was believed to be the protector of social outcasts, such as drug barons, piracy sellers and transexual prostitutes, and the cult was clandestine. However, in the current context of violence since the mid 2000s, the Santa Muerte has ‘came out from the dark’ and turned into a folk saint widely visible in marketplaces, streets and ‘sanctuaries’ specially built for her worship all across Mexico. The rise of the devotion to Santa Muerte can only be understood within the larger context of the ‘war on drugs’ and the multiple messages that are sent through hanged, mutilated, beheaded, burned, dissolved in acid, or skinned bodies. To pray for one’s ‘good death’ is a powerful cultural resource in order to cope with ramping criminality, impunity and institutional collapse.