Current Institutional Affiliation
Lecturer, Ethnic Studies, University of California / San Diego

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2014
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Global and Sociocultural Studies, Florida International University
Contested Natures & Insecurities: The Aerial Fumigation of Illicit Crops in Colombia

Colombia is the only country in the world that currently permits the aerial fumigation of illicit crops. This practice, financed by the US State Department, has exacerbated the already tenuous circumstances of a rural population caught in the crossfire of an ongoing civil conflict. Of central importance to this study are the tensions that exist between the Latin American countries that produce illicit narcotics and the wealthier Northern countries that consume the vast majority of the world's supply. The focus of the US "war on drugs" has largely been on stamping out the production and distribution of cocaine and other illegal drugs, with less emphasis on the issue of domestic consumption. For US policymakers, the aerial fumigation of narcotics is a vital component of counter-narcotics and counter-insurgency imperatives established in the 2000 Plan Colombia agreement. For Colombian peasants, however, aerial fumigation threatens human, plant, and animal lives as well as ways of living. Informed by Critical Geopolitics and Political Ecology, I argue that aerial fumigation policy is conceptually driven by imperatives that render rural Colombians invisible within a landscape of violence and displacement. Furthermore, I argue that the practice of aerial fumigation violates policy guidelines, threatening the health, security, food security, and land tenure of rural Colombians. The purpose of this study is to gather the testimony of spray zone residents, the documentation of voices silenced by transnational geopolitical decisions. These voices will be incorporated into a quantitative dataset that I will use to map the socio-environmental implications of aerial fumigation policy, practice, and experience in Colombia.