This essay is an ethnographic exploration of the ethos and mores of Mexico’s contemporary drug culture. It uses temporal directionality (telos) to interpret the idiosyncratic symbols and rituals developed for the warrior order known as the Caballeros Templarios or Knights Templar cartel (Michoacán). The essay shows that Mexican drug organizations, in their dedication to the business of privatizing public goods, are thus at the same time parallel state structures and trust-based organizations of brothers working to build a collective future. The essay emphasizes the cultural elaboration of competing communitarian and bureaucratic organizational forms and ideals in order to explore the leadership style and moral codes of honor of the Knights Templar, underscoring the centrality of transnational movement in the invention of an acutely gender- and class-based culture of violent domination and caste formation.
The Ethos and Telos of Michoacán’s Knights Templar
Claudio Lomnitz teaches anthropology at Columbia University and is a regular contributor to the Mexico City press. He is the author of Death and the Idea of Mexico (Zone Books, 2005) and The Return of Comrade Ricardo Flores Magón (Zone Books, 2014), among other works. His most recent book is Nuestra América: Utopía y persistencia de una familia judía (Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2018).
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Claudio Lomnitz; The Ethos and Telos of Michoacán’s Knights Templar. Representations 1 August 2019; 147 (1): 96–123. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2019.147.1.96
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