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Of bandits and saints: Jesús Malverde and the struggle for place in Sinaloa, Mexico

[journal article]

Price, Patricia L.

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Abstract Jesús Malverde, a bandit who was assassinated in 1909, crystallizes the struggle for place-understood both literally and metaphorically-in northern Mexico. The socially and economically marginal people who revered him in the nineteenth century adore him as a lay saint today. Contention over building a chapel to Malverde in Culiacán, the capital city of the northern Mexican state of Sinaloa, distils broader tensions over the Mexican state’s persistent deferral of the poor from inclusion in the official landscape of the nation. Malverde’s appropriation by Sinaloa’s narcotraffickers as their patron saint extends this symbolic and material claim to legitimacy to include those who exist outside the official boundaries. The border between the sacred and the profane is often a site of social struggle, and the case of Malverde is no exception. While the legend of Malverde may well have been invented, its negotiation has proven remarkably long-lived and powerful in shaping and reshaping the iconographic and material landscapes of social inclusion and exclusion. Malverde thus offers an empty signifier whose multiple interpretations yield a surplus of symbolic meanings and material production based on the circulation, negotiation, appropriation, and reinterpretation of those meanings.
Document language English
Publication Year 2005
Page/Pages p. 175-197
Journal Cultural Geographies, 12 (2005) 2
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)