College of Liberal Arts
and Social Sciences

The University of Houston
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News & Events

Anadeli Bencomo awarded a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant

Hispanic Studies Dept. Chair will teach and study narco-violence in Mexico

Prof. Anadeli Bencomo

Narco-violence is a succinct term for the kidnappings, assassinations, dismemberments, mass murders and other extreme violence used by illegal drug cartels to assert their power and domination over local and national governments and law enforcement agencies.

How these acts of terrorism committed by organized-crime syndicates are communicated to the people living in cartel-controlled urban communities in Mexico is the subject of Anadeli Bencomo’s research.

Dr. Bencomo, chair of the Hispanic Studies Department, has been awarded a Core Fulbright U.S. Scholar grant to study and teach in Guadalajara, Mexico.

“I will be studying journalistic and literary writings depicting the impact of narco-violence in urban communities,” she said. “By spending several months in the city of Guadalajara I will be able to witness the impact of narco-violence in the everyday life of one of the most important cities in Mexico.”

Her research has found that Mexico is portrayed by national and international journalists as a country devastated by drug trafficking, organized crime and corruption of elected and law enforcement officials. Guadalajara has been one of the epicenters on narco-violence since the late 1980s.

Brutal attacks against journalists shape the public perception of the cartels just as much as the news reports published and broadcast by journalists.

“There are those texts which denounce this violence as the result of a historically corrupt Mexican State where the official institutions are main culprits,” Dr. Bencomo said. But there are also written “representations that construct a legendary version of the drug lords with their immense fortunes and power.”

Digging through the various journalistic and literary writings published in the Mexican Chronicle and other primary news sources will allow Bencomo to separate urban legend from fact.

Bencomo said the Fulbright award gives her the crucial advantage of being able to “interview the authors of the texts, to record their own perspectives on their work, their goals, their limitations, and personal risks while engaging in narrating the stories of narco-violence.”

The core Fulbright Scholar Program sends 800 U.S. faculty and professionals abroad each year. Grantees lecture and conduct research in a wide variety of academic and professional fields. The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in the U.S. Department of State.

Fulbright alumni have become heads of state, judges, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, CEOs, university presidents, journalists, artists, professors and teachers. They have been awarded 43 Nobel Prizes. Since its inception more than 60 years ago, approximately 300,000 Fulbrighters have participated in the Program.