Year of Graduation


Level of Access

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Department or Program

Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies

First Advisor

Javier Cikota


In the spring of 2011, the indigenous community of Cherán K’eri in western Mexico rose up to protect their forests. Organized crime, and its allies, had taken over this town during the previous decade and had logged significant portions of its communal forests in the surrounding hills. This thesis examines the following questions: How do townspeople recall their experience under a narco state? What pushed this indigenous community to organize to protect the forest despite the threat of violence? What was it about this landscape in particular that brought people together? Previous research into this uprising has overlooked the gender dynamics of the community, and has failed to consider the townspeople’s connection to nature. Using interviews gathered over eighteen months in three separate visits, this thesis argues that despite patriarchal expectations that men “protect” the community and its resources it was women who led and organized the uprising. Chapter One analyzes how organized crime took control of the community, suggesting that memories and trauma of the “war on drugs” deeply affected the townspeople. Chapter Two centers on the uprising itself, exploring not only the gendered dynamics of that spring, but connecting the material and affective importance of the forest to the women who led the uprising. This thesis analyzes how organized crime took control of the community and argues that townspeople’s multilayered connection to nature played a central role in the town’s movement.