Claudio Lomnitz : Mexico Fantasy of the Family, Fantasy of Rule of Law

In July 2014 Mexico’s Federal Police raided an orphanage in a traditionally Catholic city in the western state of Michoacán.  The raid was also a punctiliously orchestrated media-op, complete with military helicopter, a tank, and dozens of soldiers in bullet-proof vests, who stormed the orphanage as if the capture of Osama Bin Laden were on the balance.  The orphanage’s name was La Gran Familia (The Great Family), and it was the creation and fiefdom of a lady from the local rancher elite.  The raid followed a deep crisis of governability in the state of Michoacán, that had culminated two weeks priori, with the arrest of the most vocal leader of locally organized militias that operated against a local drug cartel, known as the Knights Templar (“Los Templarios”).  Based on interviews done locally and on a study of various media, this lecture analyzed two fissures that were made visible in this social drama: a fracture in the ability to counter insecurity with the rule of law, and a fracture in the ability of the family to shape local order.

Claudio Lomnitz is Campbell Family Professor of Anthropology and the Director of the Center for Mexican Studies at Columbia University. He writes a bi-monthly column for the Mexico City newspaper La Jornada and is currently the co-editor of the books series Umbrales published by Fondo de Cultura Económica. 

His numerous books include Evolución de una sociedad ruralExits from the Labyrinth: Culture and Ideology in Mexican National SpaceModernidad Indiana: nación y mediación en MéxicoDeep Mexico, Silent Mexico: An Anthropology of NationalismDeath and the Idea of Mexico and El antisemitismo y la ideología de la Revolución Mexicana. His most recent book is The Return of Comrade Ricardo Flores Magón.

B.N.Ganguli Memorial Lectures are instituted in memory of the distinguished economist Professor B.N. Ganguli, former Chair, CSDS Board of Governors. Earlier speakers in the series include Professors Charles Taylor, Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Raimundo Panikkar, Bhikhu Parekh, Ernest Gellner, Ali Mazrui, Roberto Unger, Michael Walzer, John Keane, Amit Bhaduri, Giorgio Agamben, Bina Agarwal, José Casanova, Partha Chatterjee, Boaventura de Sousa Santos and Dipesh Chakrabarty.

Friday, 20 February 2015
CSDS Seminar Room