War and Peace in Colombia

Gill, Lesley
June 2008
Social Analysis;Summer2008, Vol. 52 Issue 2, p131
Academic Journal
Low-intensity conflicts, counter-insurgencies, and the so-called war on terror blur the boundaries between war and peace and, in doing so, collapse the distinctions between combatants and non-combatants. Scholars have used concepts such as ‘routinization of terror’, ‘culture of fear’, and ‘banalization of violence’ to describe how fear regulates social life in places of extreme instability. These concepts often paint an overgeneralized portrait of violence that fails to examine the social relationships and institutional forms that give rise to terror and insecurity. This article examines the shifting qualities of war and peace in Colombia and argues that daily life in Barrancabermeja—a working-class city nominally ‘at peace’ after a government-backed, paramilitary demobilization process—is a volatile arena of uncertainty in which some people are more vulnerable than others.


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