Shaylih Muehlmann, Killam Faculty Research Fellowship

Shaylih Muehlmann, Killam Faculty Research Fellowship

My name’s Shaylih Muehlmann. I’m an
associate professor of anthropology at the University of British Columbia. For the
past decade I’ve been researching the war on drugs and how the war on drugs
has affected people in northern Mexico. This was not a topic that I was planning
on pursuing. I was studying water scarcity in northern Mexic, right at the
end of the Colorado River. I was fascinated by the way the war on drugs
affects every facet of society in this area. If you’re making sandwiches in
these border areas you’re probably making sandwiches for cartel members. So,
my current project is actually following the trajectory of a small group of women
who have gone from being completely unaware of the larger political issues
involved with the war on drugs, to becoming very vocal activists against
drug war policies. Since 2006 there have been 235,000 deaths linked to the
war on drugs in Mexico. What’s not generally understood or thought about is
that hundreds of thousands of women are left with missing or murdered children.
In 2012, I accompanied a caravan of activists who were victims of the war on
drugs and traveled around the United States bringing a message to the
American people about the suffering caused by drug war policies. In the
United States drug war policies have had a really different effect, You have this
incredibly disproportionate incarceration of black men
and many of their mothers were there on these stops through the United States.
These mothers were talking about their experiences with each other and forming
these lasting alliances. So, I’m interested in looking at that, looking at
the way transnational groups of activists come to understand each other
and strengthen their own projects. I’m very grateful for the Killam Research
Fellowship because it’s really gonna allow me to go to the field to finish
the last phase of my research for this project and to complete this book.

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