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Accepted Paper:

Making ‘gestión’ in the Colombian Amazon: community leaders and grassroots experiences of statecraft  
Cristian Erazo Romero (University of St Andrews)

Paper short abstract:

Colombia’s Amazon has been object of a series of interventions by the state, NGOs, and international organisations. Such interventions have created spaces in which local actors have embraced leadership roles, becoming doers of ‘gestión’. This paper analyses statecraft experiences of ‘gestión’.

Paper long abstract:

Since the late 1990s, the Putumayo region in Colombia’s Amazon has been a main scenario of social assistance, humanitarian aid, and development programmes by state institutions, NGOs, and international organisations. Such variety of interventions, rather than simply relegating indigenous and mestizo peoples to the status of beneficiaries, have propitiated spaces in which multiple local actors have decided to step in and embrace leadership roles often oriented to confront the state, negotiate with the state, and networking within the local political arena. In this context, doing ‘gestión’ is a common feature of community leadership. This category, part of Colombia’s political and bureaucratic lexicon, is now used by leaders to describe their own roles in bridging the relations between local communities, state institutions, and NGOs operating in Putumayo. ‘Gestión’ usually refers to channelling resources from the state and NGOs into community projects and activities. Exploring this ethnographic category through the life stories and everyday practices of indigenous female leaders, this paper analyses how leaders become key parts of statecraft by making ‘gestión’. Specifically, it argues that, by incorporating relations of ‘gestión’ and its bureaucratic time into their intimate lives, leaders can transform themselves and gain formal or informal positions as state intermediaries that interchangeably or simultaneously represent communities and the state.

Panel P067b
Grassroots states: Transformations of statecraft II
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -