Gore Capitalism Then and Now

I proposed the concept gore capitalism to explain the atrocious quotidian violence that has taken place on the Tijuana border for over a decade. Thus, operating through a theoretical, philosophical, and transfeminist framework, gore capitalism became a concept used within the Spanish-speaking national and international academy and among activists to reflect on the distinct types of violence connected to the capitalist economy and that emerge within different contexts and geopolitics on Mexico’s northern border. However, my contribution did not seek to explain all violence or represent all forms of g-local resistance in the face of neoliberal siege. On the contrary, Gore Capitalism is an invitation to think decolonially and alongside—from a perspective neither paternalistic nor binary—the problem of violence in its different dimensions and temporalities: economic, political, gendered, cultural, and colonial.

Thus it is a real pleasure to be invited to reflect in this Periscope dossier on how the questions about violence in Gore Capitalism have been taken up. It was especially exciting to read how each of the perspectives offered by Anglophone academics used the concept of gore capitalism to reflect on questions that amplify the discursive and political scope of violence and its relationship to economy, race, class, and gender beyond the confines of Mexico. The authors here demonstrate the importance of transnationally-linked movements that oppose the killing and that seek social justice for racialized bodies, dissident sexualities, and women, such as the contemporary movements #BlackLivesMatter, #NiUnaMenos, #StopTransPathologization, and #NosFaltan43.

In this sense, I am grateful for the interest shown in my work and the careful readings of each one of these academics and activists who took the time to discuss, deepen, and disagree with what this translation of Capitalismo gore offers. The contributions made by Gutiérrez, Ortega, Parra, Pittman, Ramos, and Paley are deeply inspiring for broadening my own reflections on violence and its different genealogies and approaches.

In this sense, Laura G. Gutiérrez’s reflection is fundamental because it emphasizes the importance of sustaining life out of the queer, racialized bodies that have historically been the targets of colonial violence. She proposes performance as a complex, quotidian tool to make visible forms of resistance against the colonial-neoliberal assault. Specifically, she shows us how Rafa Esparza, in his performance STILL, reveals insurgent masculinities that oppose gore capitalism through creative disobedience, producing possible alliances, sexual rebellions, and strategies of desire that disregard the norms of heterosexual masculinity and oppose the necropolitics exercised by state specialists in violence, namely the police.

On the other hand, Abeyamí Ortega explains in her reflection the importance of death as one of the commodities of necro-masculinity that is not limited to Mexico, but that crosses g-local sex-gender systems. She suggests that the concept of gore capitalism provides a vocabulary to explain the horror of the violence and to connect it to a system of labor that gives death a cruel rationality. Ortega also advocates decolonizing knowledge through the reading of Global South scholars, seeing Gore Capitalism, in this case, as a tool of decolonial border thinking that articulates a global problematic from the South: that of violence as a state technology and as a dystopic upward mobility.

Héctor Parra García’s analysis captures the emergency and social aphasia that surrounds the spectacular and quotidian violence that flooded Mexico a decade ago and that prompted me to write Gore Capitalism. He focuses on the need to update our categories for understanding violence but also acknowledges feminist and indigenous resistance to the looting, murder, and rampant plunder that is the basis of Mexican gore capitalism. In this sense, Parra reflects on the transfeminist proposal of the book and links it to other forms of resistance that try to escape the vortex of gore capitalism. This is not merely hopeful, but fundamental to seeing an outside to gore capitalism and to seeing this outside not as a mediatic spectacularization of the banality of death, but as situated, collective, autonomous, and rooted in the Mexican countryside.

How do we consider the reach of gore capitalism beyond the Mexican context? Alex Pittman’s reflection locates Gore Capitalism within a possible discursive genealogy that informs other American colonial histories, ones that connect plantations with violence and the accumulation of knowledge generated through the dispossession of racialized women’s bodies. In this sense, Pittman amplifies the scope in terms of US politics and US colonial history and reflects on the ethical limits of contemporary knowledge and its extractive relationship to the erotic, material, and physical exploitation of black women. It is exciting that his reflection analyzes the work of artist Doreen Garner who, through her sculptures, proposes ways to heal wounds and colonial traumas caused by the bodily dispossession of precarious, racialized individuals who fed capitalism and its historical companion, colonialism.

Iván Ramos’s reading is especially touching because in addition to being meticulous, sophisticated, and situated, it notices a social and aesthetic ethos that permeates Tijuana and that allowed me to consider the complexity of quotidian violence in border spaces without romanticizing or exoticizing it. On the contrary, I tried to avoid reproducing those Manichean postures. Ramos reflects on the aesthetic dimension of explicit violence and its captivating influence on different populations. As people from the Tijuana border, we share not only the daily experience of awful violence, but also a sensibility for reading the violence as part of an economic structure—an economic structure that uses aesthetics to build a framework of meaning that renders death counterintuitively acceptable. Perhaps that sensibility is what allows the theoretical scaffolding of the book to reflect on violence from a position that Ramos defines as “[refusing] Westernized depictions of violence intent on producing bourgeois sympathizing, that sort of sympathizing that produces condescending sincerity in liberal audiences.”

In some cases—such as Paley’s commentary—Western readers of Gore Capitalism offer an occidentalist reading of the book and look to it to reproduce a liberal and paternalistic logic behind the violence occurring in the Third World. It is necessary, then, to point out that my position in the book, as a theorist and an activist, is far from criminalizing any community, especially those directly affected by violence, and that my reflections’ objective is a critical approach to the necropolitical masculinity that is subsumed within the Mexican state and its connections with narcotraffic and organized crime.

In this sense, Dawn Paley may not have grasped my argument that there are no clear divisions between “the narcos” and “the government.” In Gore Capitalism I state that the two “sides” cannot be easily divided. Regarding the specialization of violence exercised by the assassins and exemplified by the mention of the Pozolero, I sought to show how “normal” the labor of extreme violence was for the gore proletariat, based on the information available in 2009. At no point were its victims criminalized, as if they were affiliated with organized crime. However, I think it is important to clarify that my current work focuses precisely on articulating activist practices and vocabularies that help us build a collectivity out of what I am calling post-mortem politics. This endeavor aims to build affective communities and find justice among the populations affected by the violence of gore capitalism in its many dimensions: those victimized by drug trafficking, by the abuse of state power, by the mining companies (which, through excessive extractivism and the murder of indigenous leaders, have displaced many native populations); those mothers of women murdered by misogynist men who are protected by the Mexican state’s structural machismo and patriarchal justice, which exacerbate the problem of feminicide.

Gore Capitalism has been taken up by these and other authors to discuss, debate, and imagine. As its author I am grateful and willing to continue a shared reflection on the violence generated by the mandates of a voracious economy linked to particular social and cultural formations that cross race, class, gender, sexuality, and bodily diversity. I invite readers to continue the dialogue around the problem of violence that, through the necropolitical machine of a rampant and voracious capitalism, produces exclusions across the world and touches us every day.

Sayak Valencia

Sayak Valencia (a.k.a. Margarita Valencia Triana) is a senior research professor in the Departamento de Estudios Culturales at the Colegio de de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana, Mexico, as well as a poet, performance artist, and essayist. In addition to Capitalismo Gore/Gore Capitalism, she is the author of Adrift's Book (2012), El reverso exacto del texto (2007), and Jueves Fausto (2004).