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The Frontier EffectState Formation and Violence in Colombia$
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Teo Ballvé

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501747533

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501747533.001.0001

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The Paramilitary War of Position

The Paramilitary War of Position

(p.59) 3 The Paramilitary War of Position
The Frontier Effect

Teo Ballvé

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the practices by which paramilitaries sought to methodically build a state presence in the region. The construction of schools and other populist actions were not simply smoke screens for the paramilitaries' drug-fueled criminal economies, nor were they just the egotistical self-indulgence of a few charismatic commanders. Or rather, as this chapter shows, they were those things but also much more. The war of position was a genuine state project; it was a deliberate attempt to create a durable new regime of accumulation and rule. And for the most part it succeeded. Paramilitary statecraft, however, was not the mechanical imposition of a preexisting blueprint; the war of position was a contingent, negotiated process that proceeded (had to proceed) through a mix of coercion and consent among rural communities.

Keywords:   war of position, paramilitary statecraft, state building, state presence, state projects, rural communities, paramilitaries

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