“Pablo Escobar is the quintessential Latin American drug lord. In this timely study, Pobutsky deciphers the broad impact of Escobar, not only on Colombia and the United States but on popular culture and the consumer marketplace worldwide.”—Howard Campbell, author of Drug War Zone: Frontline Dispatches from the Streets of El Paso and Juárez
“Pobutsky’s innovative research into the transcultural afterlife of Colombia’s foremost kingpin takes her into the world of telenovelas, surgical enhancement, and drug tourism, proving just how encompassing and unnerving Escobar’s legacy continues to be.”—Ryan Rashotte, author of Narco Cinema: Sex, Drugs, and Banda Music in Mexico’s B-Filmography
“The first comprehensive study of the relationship between the figure of Pablo Escobar and popular culture. It is key in understanding how and why narcoculture is so ubiquitous in Latin America.”—Juan Carlos Ramírez-Pimienta, author of Cantar a los Narcos
In the years since his death in 1993, Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar has become a globally recognized symbol of crime, wealth, power, and masculinity. In Pablo Escobar and Colombian Narcoculture, a long-overdue exploration of Escobar’s impact on popular culture, Aldona Bialowas Pobutsky shows how his legacy inspired the development of narcoculture—television, music, literature, and fashion representing the drug-trafficking lifestyle—in Colombia and around the world.
Pobutsky looks at the ways the “Escobar brand” surfaces in bars, restaurants, and clothing lines; in Colombia’s tourist industry; and in telenovelas, documentaries, and narco memoirs about his life, which in turn have generated popular interest in other drug traffickers such as Griselda Blanco and Miami’s “cocaine cowboys.” Pobutsky illustrates how the Colombian state strives to erase his memory, while Escobar’s notoriety only continues to increase in popular culture through the transnational media. She argues that the image of Escobar is inextricably linked to Colombia’s internal tensions in the areas of cocaine politics, gender relations, class divisions, and political corruption, and that his “brand” perpetuates the country’s reputation as a center of organized crime, to the dismay of the Colombian people. This book is a fascinating study of how the world perceives Colombia and how Colombia’s citizens understand their nation’s past and present.
Aldona Bialowas Pobutsky is associate professor of modern languages and literatures at Oakland University.