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Virginia Marisol Escobedo Aguirre

Ph.D. in Social Anthropology, El Colegio de Michoacán

Residency: September – October 2020

Research Project:  Between Dis/protection and a Neo/liberal Paradigm: An Ethnography of Journalism and Violence in Mexico


Virginia received her Ph.D. in Social Anthropology at El Colegio de Michoacán (Colmich) in 2018 and is currently an affiliated researcher at the same institution. Oscillating between history, political anthropology and the anthropology of language, she is interested in the crossings between violence and the State. Virginia has scrutinized the student movement of 1968 in Mexico, especially from memory and photography. Recently she has focused on internal forced displacement and attacks against journalists in the country. This last topic is her current project, in which she argues that the neoliberal transformations in journalism and in the way in which the State exercises its authority are intimately related to violence against journalists. 

Virginia’s dissertation titled, “En búsqueda de reconocimiento político: las performatividades múltiples del periodista. Una etnografía de periodismo y violencia en México”, takes a close ethnographic look at the experience of twelve journalists, who have sought refuge from violence in Mexico City, to explore the relationship between the public sphere and the state in Mexico. By analyzing the micro-interactions between these journalists, two NGOs that defend freedom of expression, and the Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists (a government institution), she discusses the tensions and multiple facets of the state and civil society project to “protect” journalists—a protection that is not only ambiguous and deficient, but can even increase their vulnerability. Virginia argues that this dis/protection, as she calls it, takes shape on the basis of a normative liberal discourse. Journalists too, however, take up this same discourse as a political strategy to obtain protection.