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Deceptive Utopias: Violence, Environmentalism, and the Regulation of Multiculturalism in Colombia

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Multiculturalism, constructed as a liberal utopia intended to recognize marginal populations, commonly draws upon deceptive mechanisms that reify the old trope of anthropological “savage slots” (a term borrowed from Trouillot 2003 ). Such slots configure the relationship between politics and places: the fixation of ethnicity in a territory and the creation of strong frontiers—both physical and symbolic—between grantees and nongrantees of differential citizenships. In the case analyzed in this article, those frontiers reify the distinction between peasants and indigenous peoples; two group categories widely mobilized in the context of indigenous land expansion in the northern region of Colombia (South America). This article explores how an environmental “utopic space” used by state institutions and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), has turned into a fetish that hides a segment of Colombia's most dramatic reality: the violent context wherein paramilitary threats force small peasant landholders to sell and leave their land.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Escuela de Ciencias Humanas, Universidad del Rosario in Bogotá, Colombia

Publication date: 2009-07-01

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