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The cursed leaf : an anthropology of the political economy of cocaine production in southern Colombia

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TesisJansson, Oscar. The cursed leaf : an anthropology of the political economy of cocaine production in southern Colombia.  / La hoja maldita : antropología de la economía política de la producción de cocaína en el sur de Colombia. Ed. Uppsala : Uppsala universitet  : 2008 xvi, 313 p.p. 978-91-506-2025-2
Tesis doctorales. Uppsala universitet.  Institutionen för kulturantropologi och etnologi. 2008. Palabras claves:
Agricultura, Economía rural | Antropología, Etnología | Economía, Empresas, Industria | Política, Administración pública
Siglo XXI


In this study, Oscar Jansson explores the relations mediating the distribution of surplus value in the sub-capitalist environment of cocaine production in Putumayo, Colombia. Analyzing the groups of actors in the chain of production in the tropical periphery, the study asserts that the transfer of surplus value from the peasant producers at the bottom of the cocaine economy to a significant extent is mediated by violence inflicted by paramilitary groups. This condition, it is demonstrated, enables cocaine traffickers to reduce the costs for obtaining their merchandise by gradually increasing the portion of unpaid labour performed by peasant producers. Faced with the existential and physical hardship of the human condition unfolding on a pioneer frontier under the weight of these relations, small-scale peasant producers struggle to make sense of the forces imposed on them, and, in doing so, create the very ideologies which give cocaine production in Putumayo its actual shape. In the course of the exploration of this system and its protagonists, attention is paid to the relationship between government forces and paramilitaries, the role of the FARC-EP guerrilla with respect to the profitability of drug trafficking, and the local results of the demobilization of the paramilitary umbrella organization AUC. Combining the inquiry into the relations of production with one into the effectiveness of violence and the forms in which the rural population accommodate experiences of repression and exploitation in narrative, social relations and fantasy, the study presents a so far scantily researched economic formation through the lens of an anthropology of political economy.

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