Title

Toward a Contextual Ethics in Sabina Berman’s El narco negocia con Dios

Subject Area

Spanish American Studies

Abstract

El narco negocia con Dios by playwright Sabina Berman opened to rave reviews and sold-out houses at Mexico City’s Foro Shakespeare in the summer of 2012, a year in which some 12,000 Mexicans died in gang and drug-related violence. At the heart of this dark, absurdly pulpy comedy is the idea of the doble moral, a moral double standard that condones seemingly innocuous corruption like bribes to traffic cops while condemning corruption on a larger scale. Berman explores the blurred limits between good and evil in today’s Mexico through an encounter between Alberto, an impotent prescription drug-addled writer, and Ramón, the lover of Alberto’s wife Patricia and the titular narco that makes deals with God to remit the sins of his profession. Patricia’s unambiguous moral ambiguity serves as a foil to Alberto’s sister Gabriela, a self-professed fervant Christian whose moral certitude is only matched by her ignorance of the actual text of the Bible.

In typical Berman fashion, in El narco negocia con Dios no character or segment of society is free from criticism. However, more than an all-encompassing critique of the doble moral, a closer reading indicates that there is indeed an ethical takeaway from the play, a space apart from Ramón and Patricia’s moral nihilism and Gabriela’s religious morality. Building upon the distinction between the moral and the ethical as well as Jonathan Dancy’s idea of moral particularism, it is shown that the play offers a contextualized, ethical framework where principled decisions can be made for the betterment of society.

Brief Bio Note

Brian Chandler is an associate professor of Spanish at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. His research focuses on contemporary Latin American literature with an emphasis on Mexican theater and narrative. He has published various articles on the intersection between historiography, fiction, and theater and is currently researching topics such as science in Mexican literature and how the current wave of drug trafficking and gang-related violence in Mexico is treated in literature.

Keywords

Mexican literature, Sabina Berman, Ethics, Good and evil, Violence, Religion, Morality

Location

Room 217

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-27-2015 9:00 AM

End Date

3-27-2015 10:15 AM

Embargo

5-23-2017

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Mar 27th, 9:00 AM Mar 27th, 10:15 AM

Toward a Contextual Ethics in Sabina Berman’s El narco negocia con Dios

Room 217

El narco negocia con Dios by playwright Sabina Berman opened to rave reviews and sold-out houses at Mexico City’s Foro Shakespeare in the summer of 2012, a year in which some 12,000 Mexicans died in gang and drug-related violence. At the heart of this dark, absurdly pulpy comedy is the idea of the doble moral, a moral double standard that condones seemingly innocuous corruption like bribes to traffic cops while condemning corruption on a larger scale. Berman explores the blurred limits between good and evil in today’s Mexico through an encounter between Alberto, an impotent prescription drug-addled writer, and Ramón, the lover of Alberto’s wife Patricia and the titular narco that makes deals with God to remit the sins of his profession. Patricia’s unambiguous moral ambiguity serves as a foil to Alberto’s sister Gabriela, a self-professed fervant Christian whose moral certitude is only matched by her ignorance of the actual text of the Bible.

In typical Berman fashion, in El narco negocia con Dios no character or segment of society is free from criticism. However, more than an all-encompassing critique of the doble moral, a closer reading indicates that there is indeed an ethical takeaway from the play, a space apart from Ramón and Patricia’s moral nihilism and Gabriela’s religious morality. Building upon the distinction between the moral and the ethical as well as Jonathan Dancy’s idea of moral particularism, it is shown that the play offers a contextualized, ethical framework where principled decisions can be made for the betterment of society.