Law in a Lawless Land: Diary of a Limpieza in Colombia

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9780226790145: Law in a Lawless Land: Diary of a Limpieza in Colombia

A modern nation in a state of total disorder, Colombia is an international flashpoint—wracked by more than half a century of civil war, political conflict, and drug-trade related violence—despite a multibillion dollar American commitment that makes it the third-largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid.

Law in a Lawless Land offers a rare and penetrating insight into the nature of Colombia's present peril. In a nuanced account of the human consequences of a disintegrating state, anthropologist Michael Taussig chronicles two weeks in a small town in Colombia's Cauca Valley taken over by paramilitaries that brazenly assassinate adolescent gang members. Armed with automatic weapons and computer-generated lists of names and photographs, the paramilitaries have the tacit support of the police and even many of the desperate townspeople, who are seeking any solution to the crushing uncertainty of violence in their lives. Concentrating on everyday experience, Taussig forces readers to confront a kind of terror to which they have become numb and complacent.

"If you want to know what it is like to live in a country where the state has disintegrated, this moving book by an anthropologist well known for his writings on murderous Colombia will tell you."—Eric Hobsbawm

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About the Author:

Michael Taussig is professor of anthropology at Columbia University and the author of Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man and My Cocaine Museum, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

From Publishers Weekly:

In books like The Nervous System (1992) and The Magic of the State (1996), Columbia University anthropologist Taussing has revealed the spasms of state-sponsored murder, economic devastation and persistent belief in magic lurking beneath the supposed new world order. His latest recounts two week-long forays into several small towns in Columbia to witness the phenomenon of "limpieza," an outgrowth of a seemingly endless civil war between various guerrilla insurgents and the country's fragmented government. Limpieza, or "cleansing," is carried out town by town and involves the seemingly random killing of those who may or may not be contributing to the persistent disorder and violence, and may or may not be sympathetic to the FARC, ELN or M-19 guerrillas. The murders are carried out, frighteningly, by militias on motorbikes with laptops, called, variously and confusingly, paras (for paramilitary), autodefensas and pistoleros, in towns that often welcome their arrival. Taussig brilliantly recounts his own bewilderment in trying to understand, day by day, what is happening around him, and the ways in which the people there experience and talk about it. Taussig's forays take place in May 2001, and he notes in an afterword that the year's totals included 4,000 political murders and untold numbers of kidnappings, with two million people of the 43 million population displaced overall. With cocaine, sugar conglomerates and other First World interests participating indirectly, as Taussig shows, this is a horrifying and immediate first-person look at globalism's dark side, done with humor, despair and sympathy.
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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 2006. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New edition. 198 x 132 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. A modern nation in a state of total disorder, Colombia is an international flash-point - wracked by more than half a century of civil war, political conflict, and drug-trade related violence - despite a multibillion dollar American commitment that makes it the third-largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid. Law in a Lawless Land offers a rare and penetrating insight into the nature of Colombia s present peril. In a nuanced account of the human consequences of a disintegrating state, anthropologist Michael Taussig chronicles two weeks in a small town in Colombia s Cauca Valley taken over by paramilitaries that brazenly assassinate adolescent gang members. Armed with automatic weapons and computer-generated lists of names and photographs, the paramilitaries have the tacit support of the police and even many of the desperate townspeople, who are seeking any solution to the crushing uncertainty of violence in their lives. Concentrating on everyday experience, Taussig forces readers to confront a kind of terror to which they have become numb and complacent. Bookseller Inventory # AAH9780226790145

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 2006. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New edition. 198 x 132 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. A modern nation in a state of total disorder, Colombia is an international flash-point - wracked by more than half a century of civil war, political conflict, and drug-trade related violence - despite a multibillion dollar American commitment that makes it the third-largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid. Law in a Lawless Land offers a rare and penetrating insight into the nature of Colombia s present peril. In a nuanced account of the human consequences of a disintegrating state, anthropologist Michael Taussig chronicles two weeks in a small town in Colombia s Cauca Valley taken over by paramilitaries that brazenly assassinate adolescent gang members. Armed with automatic weapons and computer-generated lists of names and photographs, the paramilitaries have the tacit support of the police and even many of the desperate townspeople, who are seeking any solution to the crushing uncertainty of violence in their lives. Concentrating on everyday experience, Taussig forces readers to confront a kind of terror to which they have become numb and complacent. Bookseller Inventory # AAH9780226790145

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