César Antonio Cisneros Puebla: Microsociology of Killing in Mexican Video Executions. [Abstract]

During the last decade of the 20th century, Mexico experienced one of the bloodiest times in its contemporary history. Conservative estimates pointed at more than 275 thousand deaths in those years and the number of war orphans exceeded that of the Croatian war. In the international media, there was talk of a war between drug cartels, but the war involved much more than that; the civilian population suffered a lot of damage. Just as the indigenous revolution of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN for its acronym in Spanish) gained immediate worldwide attention through the internet, the actors of the war between cartels used the web to broadcast videos of executions and murders. Based on an exemplar analysis of videos on killing posted on the internet from Mexico during this decade, this contribution will focus on the sequential embedding of the actors’ actions in performing the killing as the final episode of a long torture period. The central focus of this contribution is to expose the methodological and epistemological reflections that arise on empathy and voyeurism when analyzing the unequal hierarchical relationship between victims and perpetrators in these video diaries. Our theoretical observations are marked by the frames of conversational and narrative analysis in violent situations that will end with victims’ deaths. But also, we will explore questions like what sociologists must do in such cases of state terrorism. What is the role for sociological research and social responsibility in such circumstances?

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