Accepted Paper:

Ni con cola: How agencies give state surveillance the slip in Mexico  


Keith Guzik (University of Colorado Denver)

Paper long abstract:

During his term in office, Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched a number of programs—the Personal Identity Card, the National Registry of Mobile Telephone Users, and the Public Registry of Vehicles—that sought to utilize surveillance technologies to disrupt drug cartels and other organized criminals. In other work, I have referred to the governmentality operant in these emergent state technologies as prohesion—a specific approach to ordering the world that focuses not on monitoring individual subjects, but redesigning the links between different entities, even nonhuman ones, to re-circuit collective agency through the infrastructure of the state. “Ni Con Cola”, adopted from the Spanish phrase “no pega ni con cola”, which literally translates as “it doesn’t stick even with glue” but means “it doesn’t go together”, focuses on the difficulties experienced by the Mexican government in implementing its surveillance programs. These include popular resistance, Mexico’s federalist political system, competition between political parties, state bureaucracy, design flaws, and errors. While some of these factors—the inefficacy of surveillance technologies and the resistance of civil society to state ordering projects—have been noted in past research, this paper stresses how the institutional forms of previous modes of governmentality impede the establishment of new forms. Thus, in contrast with studies that presume the state to be a unified, efficient, and powerful agent, “Ni Con Cola” evidences how historical forces can conspire to render it divided, ineffective, and weak.

Panel D3
STS and "the state"