MAKING SPACE IN THE "TERRITORIAL CRACKS." AFRO-CAMPESINO POLITICS OF LAND AND TERRITORY IN THE COLOMBIAN CARIBBEAN Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
Creator
  • BERMAN-AREVALO, ELOISA
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geography
Abstract
  • In the Caribbean mountains of Montes de María, Colombia’s ‘post-conflict’ is a particularly contested political conjuncture. Dominant narratives construct the present as a moment of dramatic transition from a past of violence, statelessness, and victim’s invisibility, to a future of peace, development, or rural justice. Conjunctural agrarian politics, in turn, are frequently framed as peasant ‘resistance’ that reflects the ‘re-emergence’ of peasant struggle after decades of violent silencing. This dissertation provides an alternative account of post-conflict campesino politics in Montes de María. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Paloaltico, a village of black campesinos in the region’s predominantly afro-descendant north-western piedmont, it inquires about the politics of land and territory that unfold “below the surface” of what is legible through a simplified understanding of post-conflict’s geographies, temporalities, and politics. Attention to practices of storytelling through which locals revisit the past in light of present conditions of oil palm encroachment extends the temporal scope of post-conflict politics beyond the last decade of peace interventions and diminished violence. I argue that throughout conjunctures of agrarian reform, armed conflict, and present-day oil palm expansion, women and men from Paloaltico have navigated ‘extraordinary’ events of violence, recognition, occupation, dispossession, and enclosure through an ‘ordinary’ politics of making space and “stitching together” the social and spatial relationships that sustain everyday life (Das 2007). Engaging the ‘ordinary’ as an epistemological register allows me to attend to how bodies, emotions, personal relations, intimate life events, and everyday practices of social reproduction shape political positions and practices. Rather than organized resistance that confronts and attempts to transform power relations, the ways of making and claiming land and territory revealed by this dissertation are subtle, unexpected, and often clandestine political practices that emerge “in the cracks” of dominant territorializations (De Certeau 1984). Hence, a politics of seeking continuity, exercising everyday refusals, and collectively making and sharing knowledge, unfolds in an ambiguous location both within and against dominant spatial and political regimes, neither openly resisting nor acquiescing to the dominant power orders.
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Advisor
  • Lentz, Christian
  • Olson, Elizabeth
  • Valdivia, Gabriela
  • Gokariksel, Banu
  • Escobar, Arturo
Degree
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2018
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