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Title: Walking through a land of skulls : persisting with everyday uncertainty in Mexico
Author: Polanska, Malgorzata
ISNI:       0000 0004 9351 7665
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis examines how people respond to the possibility of violence on a daily basis. It is based on eight months of fieldwork in the periphery of Paloxpan (not a real name), in the state of Veracruz in central east Mexico. Rather than presenting an exhaustive list of the coping strategies of the veracruzanos (inhabitants of Veracruz), its purpose is to explore their everyday experiences of insecurity as a possibility and as a process, rather than any as a function of a particular event. To this end, this research engages with the mundane activities of the unprivileged who are exposed to everyday violence related to criminal activities. This study main interest is twofold, in that it investigates how people navigate a context of violence and communicate within it. Early on in the fieldwork, the unknown aspect of living daily with potential violence connected these two main threads. I wondered how people got on with managing their local context of everyday uncertainty, understood by this research as a subjective and temporal possibility (here: potentiality) rather than the certainty that violence would occur. By people I refer here to the inhabitants of Paloxpan: firstly, those identified as economically less privileged, living in the urban-rural periphery; secondly, those exposed to the risk of being targeted by violence, derived from the type of professional activity in which they were engaged. Given that most of the formal channels of communication (such as local media) were at the time of this study operating under the control of the state government, people used alternative ways to inform themselves about daily insecurities. Their creative approach emerged from their essential, everyday persistence. I have chosen to include the ambiguities and non-obvious aspects of living alongside everyday violence, as the uncertain was an important feature of everyday life in Paloxpan. Following extensive research in the field, this study slowly unfolds around silences and invisibilities, and the resulting forms in which people persist, within and despite adverse conditions. In this, I wonder how multiple silences speak on the one hand, and how people negotiate a spectrum of invisibilities which can be protecting or endangering, on the other. In my interpretation, their responses turn into the central category of persistence which this research identifies, and which includes continuity and insists on survival, thereby embracing traces of hope.
Supervisor: Murray De Lopez, Jenna ; Macginty, Hugh Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: everyday ; grey zone ; invisibility ; creativity ; fieldwork ; slow research ; potentiality ; local ; mundane ; subjunctive ; silence ; everyday resistance ; coping mechanisms ; Mexico ; persistence ; everyday uncertainty ; insecurity ; informal communication ; ethnography ; violences