Research

I am currently revising the manuscript for my first book. The (In)Visible State: Politics, Perception, and the Legacies of Mexico’s Dead Revolution, is a historical ethnography that examines the afterlife of the Mexican post-revolutionary state in the lives of those living among its remains. Pushing against the state’s recent efforts to dismiss the vitality of its own revolutionary project, this book reveals and problematizes its endurance. I do so, however, by focusing not on nationalist myths and symbols but on the material traces that persisted after the state abandoned its exemplary policies and reforms (land redistribution, economic nationalism, indigenismo, developmentalism). Attending to these traces (a set of agrarian documents, decaying oil infrastructures, a reconstructed pre-Hispanic monument, and a collection of ethnic photographs) allows me to expose the endurance of a political regime of perceptibility, which has defined what and who are and are not recognizable in the social and material landscape. I argue that the power of the post-revolutionary state has been exerted and reproduced—even in the aftermath of its downfall—through this governing aesthetic configuration, which is an understudied and lasting outcome of Mexico’s post-revolutionary state-building efforts.

In addition to working on my first book, I have launched research on my second project. Material Witnesses: The Forensic Archiving of Bones and the Animation of the Dead in Contemporary Mexico is an ethnographic investigation into the Mexican state’s handling of political violence through the workings of the AMPM—a standardized forensic database developed to register, store, and transmit information about missing and dead bodies. Drawing on insights from Science and Technology Studies, this project will examine how through forensic procedures, bureaucratic practices, and digital technologies, human remains are being reconstituted as both persons and things, racialized subjects and objects, meanings and matter.

 

Image Credit: Detail, Pirámide de los Nichos, 1924, Archivo Técnico del Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico City, vol. I, 1924-1935, Tomo CXXV, Tajín, Estado de Veracruz.