Reconfiguring the Map of the Sensible in Literature about Femicide and Narcotrafficking

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


This paper takes Part IV, entitled La Parte de los Crímenes (The Part About the Crimes), of Roberto Bolaño’s novel 2666 (2004) and Yuri Herrera’s novel Trabajos del reino (Kingdom Cons) (2004) as case studies to consider the potential of the work of French political philosopher Jacques Rancière to act as a theoretical framework for understanding the ways in which literature intervenes in politics. In so doing, the paper challenges the assertion of Zavala (2014) that fictions about the drug trade can only replicate the existing distribution of the sensible.

Rancière proposes that the only way literature can contribute to politics is if it does the same work as politics. Politics, he argues, reconfigures the map of the sensible. Politics and literature can alter the map of the sensible if they are able to change perceptions of space and time, including bodily positions and movements, change what and who is and is not visible, or change who can speak, what is said, heard and silenced.

The analysis of 2666, therefore, explores the extent to which the novel changes perceptions of the feminicides by focusing on the locations in which the women’s bodies are found and the mobility of the killers. It further identifies an appearing and disappearing motif in the novel and considers the role of the narrator in revealing the conspiracy of silence which allows the murders to continue. The analysis of Trabajos del reino highlights the way in which the novel changes perceptions of the world of the cartel by portraying it as akin to a feudal context and by narrating events from the perspective of an outsider as he tries to navigate the strange world of the Kingdom.
Period06 Dec 2023
Held atCardiff University, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • Ranciere
  • Roberto Bolaño
  • Yuri Herrera
  • 2666
  • Trabajos del reino
  • distribution of the sensible
  • Mexico
  • literature and politics