Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Film-Video and Media Studies, Pennsylvania State University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2009
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Harvard University
Guerrilla Marketing: Information War and the Demobilization of FARC Rebels in Colombia

My research investigates how new forms of military intelligence gathering and demobilization efforts in Colombia are combining counterinsurgency with humanitarian post-conflict reconstruction. I assert that this convergence is being impelled by a new approach to military intelligence, namely the Ministry of Defense's "guerrilla marketing" campaigns which aim to demobilize FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) rebels. These guerrilla marketing campaigns, which adapt aggressive, targeted, and creative forms of consumer marketing, rely on strategic publicity blitzes where the FARC is under pressure, knowledge - or intelligence - about insurgent culture, and the social networks of the demobilized. I will conduct ethnographic research on the Ministry of Defense's "guerrilla marketing" demobilization campaigns and examine how ex-combatants in this program transition from insurgents to citizens. How do these campaigns link counter-insurgency and post-conflict transition paradigms? To what extent are the seemingly divergent means and ends of these paradigms reconcilable? Colombia is an ideal place to scrutinize how information warfare is shifting the relationship between counterinsurgency and post-conflict reconciliation. Even as Latin America's longest civil war continues in Colombia, the country has become a laboratory for post-conflict interventions. My dissertation will illuminate how the dynamics of information warfare are reconfiguring the Colombian conflict, and thereby offer insight into the termination of civil wars, and the changing nature of warfare in the twenty-first century. Additionally, by traversing the porous boundaries that separate military intelligence, market research, and anthropological knowledge, my dissertation will add empirical rigor to the polemical debates about the militarization of anthropological knowledge at a time when the discipline is again confronted with its military instrumentalization.