Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2011
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University
Surviving Aerial Coca Crop Fumigations in Southern Colombia

My project examines – ethnographically and historically – the ways in which practices of economic subsistence and moral persistence affirm life in the context of coca crop aerial herbicide spraying in Colombia. Over the past seventeen years, the articulation of the Colombian state with the global security scheme of the “War against Drugs” has spawned a novel regulatory and technical form of chemical statecraft in which systematic fumigations of arable land have been undertaken to stem coca production. This research will explore how this new form of statecraft is actualized and transfigured in everyday economic practices of peasant communities, and how political and moral understandings of survival are emerging amongst these communities in the midst of repeated sprayings. Taking as ethnographic sites two rural locations in the southern departments of Nariño and Putumayo, my project examines (1) the modes of governing life that emerge from the regulatory and technical apparatus of aerial fumigations; (2) the ways in which this Colombian case of “chemical statecraft” expands and deepens our current understandings of multiscalar state power as it unfolds at the intersections between local environments, rural populations, state policies and global security schemes; (3) the politics of survival that emerge from peasant material labor practices and domestic economies amidst repeated actions of aerial herbicide spraying; and (4) the ways in which systematic events of fumigations (and the legal and bureaucratic mechanisms that the state has evolved to manage them) weave into and modulate peasant understandings of law and justice by introducing new articulations of “harm” and life.