The Lingering Effects of NAFTA: An Ethnographic Dialectical Analysis of Neoliberalism, Resistance, and Hegemony in Michoacán and Idaho
Dr. Christopher Courtheyn
As neoliberal policies coincided with increased drug trafficking (Gill 2004), the North American Free Trade Agreement’s (NAFTA) lingering effects are present in Mexico three decades later. Research has shown how people opted to join drug cartels amid limited options or left the country in hopes of better economic opportunities (Sanchez et al., 2018). In Michoacán, the Cartel Jalisco Nuevo Generación runs rampant, people live in poverty, and avocado farmers have formed self-defense groups to combat cartels. Meanwhile, the cartel hosts huge parties providing villages with vast amounts of food, luxury entertainment, and money handout rituals bolo (a Mexican tradition involving throwing money for kids). This project explores the evolving realities in Michoacan. It uses my personal and family experiences as a window into the intimate and collective experiences of migration to the United States due to NAFTA along with the lives of those remaining behind. This article’s qualitative methods combine auto-ethnography of my own experience and fieldwork back in Michoacán, including observation and interviews, to understand evolving conditions in Mexico almost three decades after the trade agreement. It utilizes a regionally-rooted Mexican-American neo-Marxist perspective to reconceptualize Marxism. This research seeks to analyze my family's experience in relation to changing realities in Michoacan and the relationship with global political hegemony and neoliberal economic policy.
Arreguin Vega, Julian and Courtheyn, Christopher, "The Lingering Effects of NAFTA: An Ethnographic Dialectical Analysis of Neoliberalism, Resistance, and Hegemony in Michoacán and Idaho" (2023). 2023 Undergraduate Research Showcase. 100.