Migration in Central America

Migration in Central America

A series of publications coordinated by Gema Kloppe-Santamaría and Nathaniel Morris.

Over the past five years, the issue of Central American migration to the US has made headline news around the world. Despite the recent attention it has received, this phenomenon is far from new. While much political effort has been expended in characterizing these migrants, we still have little in-depth knowledge about the on-the-ground social, political, and economic realities that have driven so many citizens of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua to leave their homes, communities, and in many cases loved ones to make the perilous trek north towards a chronically uncertain future. 

As shown by the following series of articles it is violence that drives this Central American exodus, which even COVID-19 has proved incapable of slowing down. Drawing on extensive fieldwork in three different countries in Central America, combined with more explicitly social and political inquiry, Daniel Núñez, José Luis Rocha, and Sonja Wolf reveal the multiple forms that violence in Central America has taken over the past few years, and explore the diverse ways they affect different groups.


The Many Violence(s) Behind the Central American Exodus

By Gema Kloppe-Santamaria & Nathaniel Morris

Mexico & Central America Program?

Press inquiries and information about this series?


Please reach out to us at: 


Noria research logo noit simple

Lineamientos editoriales MXAC

To read this page in English, please click here.

Comité editorial

Dra. Cecilia Farfán-Mendez (Editora en jefe)
Dra. María Martinez Trujillo (Editora de nuestro blog “Animal Político”)
Dr. Carlos Pérez Ricart
Dr. Nathaniel Morris

Convocatoria y Lineamientos

La plataforma de Noria busca apoyar trabajos que permitan entender mejor las dinámicas de violencia en México y América Central, a partir de investigación cualitativa.

El programa Noria para México y América Central recibe de manera permanente propuestas de textos de divulgación científica en inglés o español para publicación en su sitio web.

-1- Los artículos deben tener un objeto de investigación claro, delimitado y de interés para el Programa Noria para México y América Central.

-2- Recomendamos a los y las potenciales autoras la lectura de nuestra agenda de investigación. Ahí encontrarán los ejes y aproximaciones que dan sentido al programa Noria para México y América Central.

-3- Los artículos pueden basarse (aunque no de manera exclusiva) en cualquiera de los tres ejes de investigación del programa Noria para México y América Central:

– Dinámicas de violencia, orden político y organizaciones criminales
– Migración, desplazamiento forzado y desapariciones
– Políticas públicas de seguridad, políticas de drogas y gobernanza.

-4- Pueden proponer la creación de una serie editorial (en cuyo caso, favor de contactar directamente al Comité Editorial).

-5- Los textos deben estar basados en investigación empírica y estar dirigidos al público general (favor de no enviar un artículo académico).

-6- La extensión no debe rebasar por ningún motivo las dos mil palabras con notas al pie incluidas (estilo Harvard). La bibliografía y referencias debe mantenerse al mínimo

-7- Los textos deben ser originales aunque pueden ser versiones más cortas y generales de otros textos publicados en revistas académicas. En este caso, se debe mencionar al momento de enviar su propuesta.

-8- Todos los artículos serán valorados, revisados y eventualmente aceptados a publicación por el Comité Editorial. De forma similar, el comité editorial podrá recomendar la traducción del texto al inglés o al español, según corresponda.

-9- La redacción de los textos no es remunerada.

-10- Las propuestas deben ser enviadas a la dirección electrónica: editorial-board-mxac@noria-research.com

-11- Además del texto, deberá incluirse, en archivo separado, el nombre del autor u autora, afiliación institucional (en caso de tenerse).

Escriba para nuestro blog en Animal Político

El Programa MXAC tiene un espacio de blog en el portal de Animal Político. Este espacio, en español, busca publicar columnas de opinión.

Las propuestas no pueden exceder 1,000 palabras.

Las propuestas deben ser enviadas a la dirección electrónica: editorial-board-mxac@noria-research.com

Además del texto, deberá incluirse, en archivo separado, el nombre del autor u autora, afiliación institucional (en caso de tenerse).

Siga descubriendo el Programa Noria para México y América Central.

Haga clic aquí

Violence Takes Place Series


Land, Markets and Power in Rural Mexico

The Violence takes place series is edited by Jayson Maurice Porter, and co-edited by Alexander Aviña.

Three Core Ideas

Drug-trafficking and narco-related stories

Drug-trafficking and narco-related stories cannot be the only explanation for violence in rural Mexico: we need to re-politicize the debate.

"Rural People" are not all farmers

"Rural People" are not all farmers; and rurality is not a homogeneous category of analysis. We need to take geography, ethnic differences, gender issues, social classes, and ideologies into account.

Multiple dynamics of violence

Multiple dynamics of violence must be understood in the light of the relation between rural populations (including indigenous people), the State, and market forces.


This series on violence in the Mexican countryside foregrounds local histories of the past and present. These insights help show how rural violence takes place in Mexico; how they are often overshadowed, underemphasized, or ignored entirely. In this perspective, local history and ecology are necessary for studying violence against and between the poor.

Far from the dominant, overarching narco-narratives, violence must be geographically and socially situated. This is why our analyses are based on grounded, local and empirical perspectives of rural Mexico.

Our work will analyze the relation between drug trafficking, violence and rural life in Mexico. As we will show throughout the different contributions, the distinction between licit and illicit crops is porous, just as the association of violence with drug trafficking is not always obvious. For the most part of the 20th century, in rural areas of Michoacán, Nayarit, Guerrero and Sinaloa, everyday conflicts in ranchos and villages often resulted in tragic outcomes. Such conflicts may be related to illegal activities, but they were also about land disputes, clashes between various factions, or vendettas seeking to right “honor offenses.”

In this respect, violence could be linked to drug trafficking, but it is not the only explanation or reason for it. Following that line of thought, the following series of studies aims to contribute to the debate over violence, rural areas and drug trafficking. We know that over the last years, Mexico has been affected by a terrible security crisis ; but we do not know much about the distribution of violence and its local manifestations.

In order to change this state of affairs, this series relies on ethnographical and historical work that shows that in various rural areas of Mexico the rupture between a supposedly “governable” country and one plagued with criminal violence does not make sense.

History and ethnography are key tools to further the debate, which, at present, seems to be dominated by analyses arguing that the causes for violence are easy to identify. We are highly skeptical of any analysis according to which violence can be understood by pointing to its results – characteristically, the control of a plaza or a drug route – that people can obtain solely by resorting to coercion. Such analyses forget that violence is part of social processes, with a defined timeframe. They dismiss the fact that the motives for acts of violence do not necessarily determine their results, and determine even less the way they are interpreted. Similarly, even if we were to admit that violence is produced by rational individuals who pursue specific interests, we would have to add that said interests are defined by historical and cultural backgrounds that need accounting for.



Mexico & Central America Program?

Press inquiries and information about this series?


Please reach out to us at: 


Noria research logo noit simple

Mexico & Central America

Mexico & Central America

Mexico & Central America


In the past 20 years, and in parallel to rising homicide rates in the region, we have witnessed an explosion in writing on violence in Mexico & Central America. Yet, a large proportion of this academic, journalistic and ‘expert’ work, as well as national and regional security policies, are characterized by the distance – both physical and analytical – that they maintain from the local realities that affect the region.

Because of this distance, as well as a strong normative stance on ‘criminal violence’, one can observe a lack of understanding around the local dynamics of security, governance and (dis)order.

A Call for Local Understanding
of Violence in Mexico
& Central America

Read our MXAC Editorial Guidelines


The Mexico Opium Project​

Elections and Violence in Mexico

Violence Takes

Migration in
Central America​

Podcast series

Conversations on Gender, Geography, and Violence against Women in Mexico & Central America


No event found!


The Mexico & Central America Program publishes original material on our website, as well as on a dedicated Blog Space on Animal Político.

Noria’s initiative aims to support qualitative research that enables a better understanding of the dynamics of violence in Mexico and Central America.

This effort is coordinated by a independent Editorial Board:

Dr. Cecilia Farfán-Mendez (Program Chief Editor)
Dr. María Martinez Trujillo (Animal Político Blog Editor)
Dr. Carlos Pérez Ricart
Dr. Nathaniel Morris

Our Editorial Board continuously receives proposals, written in English or Spanish, for publication on our website or our blog.

Discover our Blog on Animal Político


Extortion and Forced Displacement in Guatemala

9 December 2022

Introduction Inésused to work in a special unit of the…

Read More

Nicaragua’s Exiles: Statistics and Personal Tragedies

9 December 2022

The repression with which the government of Daniel Ortega dismantled…

Read More

No translation

8 November 2022

The translated version of this article is not yet available…

Read More

Forced Migration and the Politics of Violence in El Salvador

29 October 2022

In June 2022 more than fifty migrants from Mexico and…

Read More