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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

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Agenzia Nazionale di Valutazione del Sistema Universitario e della Ricerca: Classe A

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Volume 2018, Issue 222


Narcoculture? Narco-trafficking as a semiosphere of anticulture

Julieta Haidar / Eduardo Chávez Herrera
Published Online: 2018-04-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2016-0151


In this paper we approach a current issue related to the so-called concept of narcoculture. Several works in Latin America and the United States have addressed this matter and not only accept the term narcoculture, but also stress both the symbolic and aesthetic perspectives. In order to rethink the concept of narcoculture from different angles, we appeal to Juri Lotman and Boris Uspensky’s proposals regarding the concepts of culture, non-culture and anticulture. Rather than accept and reproduce the concept of narcoculture, by means of linking Lotman and Uspensky’s approach with the standpoint of complexity thinking and transdisciplinarity, we propose the treatment of drug trafficking as a semiosphere of anticulture. We emphasize the contradictions inherent in the actors dwelling in this semiosphere, incorporating reflections from chaotic and barbaric processes designed to wreak havoc in Mexican society. The common acceptance of the concept of narcoculture does not acknowledge the current devastation and bloodshed produced by narco-traffickers and others in cahoots with the Mexican government and its militarized drug war strategy. During the last few decades, drug trafficking has inspired organized crime and their actors, spurring the representation of everyday societal features such as music, fashion, architecture, or traffickers’ social status.

Keywords: anticulture; drug trafficking; barbarism; cultural semiotics; semiosphere; complexity theory


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About the article

Published Online: 2018-04-25

Published in Print: 2018-04-25

Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2018, Issue 222, Pages 133–162, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2016-0151.

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