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Concrete peace: building security through infrastructure in Colombia

Zeiderman, Austin ORCID: 0000-0002-3694-3719 (2020) Concrete peace: building security through infrastructure in Colombia. Anthropological Quarterly, 93 (3). 497 - 528. ISSN 0003-5491

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Identification Number: 10.1353/anq.2020.0059


Public and scholarly debates in Colombia have often framed the work required to achieve peace as la construcción del posconflicto, or "the construction of the post-conflict." This focuses attention on the imperative to build the legal and bureaucratic institutions necessary for transcending a half-century of violence and ensuring a stable and lasting transition. At the same time, this framing also encapsulates the work of building post-conflict Colombia in a physical sense. Focusing on a nationwide process of development aimed at laying the infrastructural foundations of "the Colombia of the future," this article examines the expectations attached to the built environment at this critical conjuncture. Taking inspiration from a felicitous phrase coined by the Ministry of Transport's Twitter account, #PazEnConcreto, it highlights the real-and-imaginary work of building a "concrete peace" through the construction of roads, airports, and bridges. By analyzing infrastructure projects expected to mediate the transition to a new stage of history, the first objective is to examine the cultural, political, and economic logics according to which Colombia's future has been imagined and built. The second objective is to consider what this case suggests about the political agency of the material world in the domain of violence, peace, and security. As a notoriously intractable armed conflict continues alongside periodic peacebuilding efforts, substances like concrete, and the construction projects they support, become material and symbolic resources in the struggle to control a deeply uncertain process of historical change.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2020 The Institute for Ethnographic Research (IFER) a part of The George Washington University
Divisions: Geography & Environment
LSE Cities
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2019 14:48
Last Modified: 06 Apr 2024 20:54

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