Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2021
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Stanford University
Assets for Peace: Biodiversity and Science in Post-Conflict Colombia

Following the landmark 2016 peace agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC guerillas that officially ended fifty years of internal armed conflict, scientists, rural residents, and government officials are envisioning a new resource for peacemaking: biodiversity. My research investigates the mobilization of biodiversity as a valuable resource for building a post-conflict future in Colombia. Considered the world’s second most biodiverse country, Colombia is experiencing unprecedented interest in bioprospecting—the survey, study, and marketization of biological diversity. Government-funded scientists have eagerly begun to re-explore the most conflict-afflicted regions in search of the country’s latent biological diversity and its potential for recuperating economies and ecologies once “lost” to guerrilla presence. Over 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork, I will follow a group of Colombian scientists, Afro-Colombian women, and state officials across laboratories, coastal landscapes, and government offices as they embark on a bioprospecting project in one of the most biodiverse and conflict-affected areas of the country—the predominantly rural, Afro-Colombian municipality of Tumaco. I seek to explore the conditions that enable the survey and marketization of biodiversity and how bioprospecting is experienced and constituted through the encounters between scientists, rural residents, and government officials. At stake in the marketization of biodiversity as a means to secure (post-conflict) futures is bioprospecting’s potential to shape local communities’ expectations, scientific practices, and peacemaking aspirations in contemporary Colombia.