‘La mafia muere: Violence, drug trade and the state in Sinaloa, 1940-1980’

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The article examines the rise in violence in the state of Sinaloa between the 1940s and the 1980s. It analyzes the shifting structure of the drug trade and the changing roles of federal and state authorities, bringing both observations together. By looking at the changing nature of the drug trade and its relationship to state authorities from the 1930s through to the 1970s, the article attempts to understand why Sinaloa experienced such an upsurge in violence during the period, and to engage with three broad conceptual debates: the role of violence and coercion in Mexican state-making, a more particular debate about the (subnational) historiography of the 1960s, and 1970s; and, finally about the relationships between violence and (organized) crime. In doing so, it contributes to a significant paradigm shift from approaches that prioritized non-violent forms of state-making and political mediation, and with a strong focus on national institutions, towards one that systematically examines the role of coercion, violence, repression and criminal networks in the workings of Mexican state power and state-making.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-116
Number of pages26
JournalEuropean review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Issue number112
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Mexico
  • Sinaloa
  • history
  • drug trade
  • state formation
  • violence
  • historia
  • tráfico de drogas
  • formación de estado
  • violencia


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