Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, University of California / Davis

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2015
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Cultural Studies, University of California / Davis
When Landmines Do Not Explode: Peasant Life in the Colombian War

My dissertation looks at how the threat of landmine explosions in Colombia reconfigures rural lands and their economies enabling peasant life in violent and regionally specific ways. Conceptualizing landmines beyond what I call "the explosive event" and its disabling capacity, my project considers the latent destructive power of mines to transform and empower particular socio-natural relations and practices. I explore these issues through ethnographic fieldwork in the northeast province of Arauca, Colombia. Once considered an agricultural and cattle-raising zone, Arauca is currently known for its prominent role in the national oil sands industry. Popular narrative explains that the combined military and oil presence have intensified the conflict in rural territories and have made the province more susceptible to being mined. As powerful yet invisible weapons in the ongoing Colombian war, landmines are crucial facilitators of the occupation, control, and allocation of campesino territories disputed among the State, multinational oil companies, the BACRIM, and the guerrillas. My project seeks to provide an ethnographic account of campesino place-making in Arauca vis-a-vis the presence of landmines, the oil industry and infrastructure, and the militarization of the region. Inspired by contemporary anthropology of life in precarious conditions and political ecology, my work is focused on the constitution of new relations, rural knowledge, and daily practices in relation to mined territories, while shedding light on ordinary, chronic, and quotidian forms of vulnerability and violence in which mines are actively involved.