Land-mined landscape: war artifacts, embodiment, environment and territory
(Universidad de los Andes)
Paper short abstract:
The present paper is the result of the ethnographical fieldwork developed in Vista Hermosa, Meta (Colombia) aimed to identify a multiple set of connections among humans and non-humans, environment and war, whose axis is the landmine. This is what I have called land-mined landscapes
Paper long abstract:
The use of land mines in an internal armed conflict conduct us to think about "territorialization". The decision to lay mines depends on the lecture of territory made by the warring parties and their perception about how "the other" moves on space. Guerrillas use mines because they are cheap, easy to manufacture and effective to weaken "the other" by wounding and maiming them. These artifacts are produced according with conditions and resources available in each particular territory. Consequently, in a way, these devices are deeply intertwined with those environments and cultures within which they are produced. In Colombia, FARC learnt its techniques to lay mines from the Vietcong, the Vietnamese guerrilla that fought against the US in the 60's and 70's. In fact, the know how for the production and use of explosive devices is globally connected but locally adapted knowledge. Decisions about where to lay every mine involve a deep understanding of the space. The territory is "manipulated" to create an image of apparent normality. Second, the mined areas are carefully marked with secret signs such as scratches in the trees or pieces of toilet paper attached to plants. This way, the laying of mines becomes a process of territory making for war purposes. At the same, the landmine, as an artifact (we could say an actant), operates the hub of global network that only can be understood through an embodied lecture of landscape..
Throwing together ways of being/meaning: recursive anthropology at the cusp of a paradigm change [Roundtable]