Necroliberalism and Cyborg Resistance in Mexican and Chicanx Dystopias
And yet the same technology can be utilized by the oppressed in the service of resistance. The texts studied here represent speculative stories about this technological empowerment. These texts theorize different means of techno-resistance to key realities that have emerged within Mexican and Chicano/a/x communities under the rise and reign of neoliberalism. The first three chapters deal with dehumanization, the trafficking of death, and unbalanced access to technology. The final two chapters deal with the major forms of violence—feminicide and drug-related violence—that have grown exponentially in Mexico with the rise of neoliberalism. These stories theorize the role of technology both in oppressing and in providing the subaltern with necessary tools for resistance.
Robo Sacer builds on the previous studies of Sayak Valencia, Irmgard Emmelhainz, Guy Emerson, Achille Mbembe, and of course Giorgio Agamben, but it differentiates itself from them through its theorization on how technology—and particularly cyborg subjectivity—can amend the reigning biopolitical and necropolitical structures of power in potentially liberatory ways. Robo Sacer shows how the cyborg can denaturalize constructs of zoē by providing an outlet through which the oppressed can tell their stories, thus imbuing the oppressed with the power to combat imperialist forces.
Part I: Denaturalizing Greater-Mexican Zoē: The Early Stages of NAFTA (1992–2001)
1. Reimagining the Sanctity of Expendable Life: Necroliberal Markets and Secularly Holy Cyborgs in Cherríe Moraga’s Heroes and Saints and Guillermo del Toro’s Cronos
2. Existing in the Necroliberal Order Online: Robo-Sacer Subjectivity in Pepe Rojo’s “Ruido gris” and Ernest Hogan’s Smoking Mirror Blues
Part II: NAFTA after the Transition: Worker Expendability in a Necroliberal Age (2006–2018)
3. Hacking the Bios: Disposable Braceros and Bare Life in Alex Rivera’s Sleep Dealer and Rosaura Sánchez and Beatrice Pita’s Lunar Braceros 2125–2148
4. Robo-Sacer Resistance and Feminicide: Gabriela Damián Miravete’s “Soñarán en el jardín” and Carlos Carrera and Sabina Berman’s Backyard/El traspatio
5. Guns, Narcos, and Low-Tech Cyborgs: Magical Realism, SF, and the Posthuman in Julio Hernández Cordón’s Cómprame un revólver and Rudolfo Anaya’s ChupaCabra Trilogy
Conclusion: The Limits of Robo-Sacer Resistance
"As suggested by its inventive title, Robo Sacer combines Giorgio Agamben's concept of bare life and Donna Haraway's theorization of the cyborg to help us understand the critical power of Mexican and Chicanx dystopian fictions. Engaging an impressive range of works from both sides of the border, Dalton persuasively deconstructs neoliberal utopias, revealing their basis in the violence of accumulation and disposability."
—Curtis Marez, author of Farm Worker Futurism: Speculative Technologies of Resistance ~Curtis Marez, author of Farm Worker Futurism: Speculative Technologies of Resistance
"Dalton's study provides a theoretical model for understanding subalterns on both sides of the US-Mexico border, deepening our understanding of biopolitical thought through cyborg theory and strategies of embodied resistance. Robo Sacer examines the oppressive and subversive aspects of technology in struggles against exploitation, racism, feminicide, and drug violence."
—M. Elizabeth Ginway, author of Cyborgs, Sexuality, and the Undead: The Body in Mexican and Brazilian Speculative Fiction ~M. Elizabeth Ginway, author of Cyborgs, Sexuality, and the Undead: The Body in Mexican and Brazilian Speculative Fiction
"Dalton does an excellent job putting contemporary critical theory into conversation with cyborg theory, and in so doing, foregrounds the crucial role that speculative fiction plays in how societies grapple with income inequality and the value of human life."
—J. Andrew Brown, author of Cyborgs in Latin America ~J. Andrew Brown, author of Cyborgs in Latin America
"Through the lens of Mexican and Latinx cultural products, David Dalton shows how the same technology used to marginalize communities may also serve as a tool of political resistance."
—Yolanda Molina-Gavilán, editor of Cosmos Latinos: An Anthology of Science Fiction from Latin America and Spain ~Yolanda Molina-Gavilán, editor of Cosmos Latinos: An Anthology of Science Fiction from Latin America and Spain