The Mexican Exception: Sovereignty, Police, and Democracy

Hardcover | April 15, 2011

byGareth Williams

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The war on drugs has opened up a discussion on whether Mexico is living a state of exception or even becoming a failed state. This book argues that sovereign exceptionality has always been central to Mexican modernity. The question is how to understand the way the sovereign exception has worked and continues to work in cultural, historical, and institutional terms since this holds the key to understanding the nature of contemporary democracy. Each chapter of The Mexican Exception examines an event or particular historical sequence that sheds light on the relation between culture, sovereign exceptionality, and the political. Drawing on literature, photography, critical theory, and the history of social movements and state formation, The Mexican Exception proposes a partial history of the state of exception by examining the electoral stand-off of 2006; Zapatismo past and present; the humanist representation of history; sovereignty and caciquismo; popular culture and the figure of the rogue; the events and political imagination of 1968; the ‘dirty war’ of the 1970's and the militarization of the social sphere in recent decades. In this book Williams maps out political and cultural counter-genealogies in order to shed light on the workings of the constitutive couple of democracy (equality and freedom) in modern and contemporary Mexico.

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The war on drugs has opened up a discussion on whether Mexico is living a state of exception or even becoming a failed state. This book argues that sovereign exceptionality has always been central to Mexican modernity. The question is how to understand the way the sovereign exception has worked and continues to work in cultural, histor...

Gareth Williams is an Associate Professor of Spanish and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Michigan.  He is the author of The Other Side of the Popular:  Neoliberalism and Subalternity in Latin America (2002) and of numerous articles examining the relation between cultural history, literature, and political phi...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:228 pages, 8.89 × 5.67 × 0.75 inPublished:April 15, 2011Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:023011024X

ISBN - 13:9780230110243

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Table of Contents

Exceptionality, Autoimmunity, Incalculability * Politics, Equality, Freedom * The Manufactured Image:  Melodramatic Consciousness and the Disappearance of the Political * Humanism Begets Good Order:  Alfonso Reyes and Police Thought * "Under the Paving Stones, the Beach!”:  Chance, Passive Decision, Democracy * Absolute Bio-Hostility and Ubiquitous Enmity:  The Party of the Poor and the Militarization of the Political

Editorial Reviews

“A very readable, engaging, well-organized discussion which, on one hand, presents powerful and provocative counterarguments against triumphalist Mexican historiography according to which the post-revolutionary State has succeeded in redressing the rampant injustices and inequalities that plagued Mexico from the colonial period through the early 20th century. On the other hand, Williams also takes issue with critical histories which have documented how post-revolutionary Mexican regimes (and the PRI party in particular) perpetuate old inequities and/or introduce new forms of inequality. The limitation of many such alternative approaches, he argues, is found in the fact that they unthinkingly reproduce an understanding of the political that is grounded in what Foucault terms biopolitics, and which in the case of Mexico was inherited precisely from the Porfiriato. The book will be a must-read for scholars and graduate students working on Mexico and Latin America in a variety of disciplines, including literary criticism, cultural studies, history and political thought.”  --Patrick Dove, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Indiana University"This is, by any standard, a superb book: carefully researched, eloquently written, theoretically sophisticated, driven by a relentless egalitarian passion, and at the same time painstakingly loyal to the wealth of literary, historical-archival, and journalistic materials at hand. Drawing from the definitions of sovereignty, police, and democracy in the work of Michel Foucault and Jacques Rancière, Gareth Williams carves out an impressive path of his own by making such theoretical questions about the limits of sovereign power bear on the concrete circumstances of twentieth and twenty-first century Mexico. The Mexican Exception will be indispensable reading for students and scholars of Mexico and Latin America for a very long time indeed."  --Bruno Bosteels, Cornell University