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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 Masquerades of Grassroots Development

The Masquerades of Grassroots Development

Chapter:
(p.101) 5 The Masquerades of Grassroots Development
Source:
The Frontier Effect
Author(s):

Teo Ballvé

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9781501747533.003.0006

This chapter dissects how grassroots development initiatives enabled the creation of a vast criminal economy. Paramilitaries' use of grassroots development went beyond simply whitewashing their plunder with fashionable, politically correct development-speak. The discourses, institutions, and practices of grassroots development formed an integral part of the paras' extralegal political economy. In the context of the frontier effect, grassroots development made their economies of violence surprisingly compatible with formal projects of liberal state building. The paramilitaries turned grassroots development into a vehicle both for executing their massive land grabs and for promoting, in their words, the “arrival of the state.” As a strategic assemblage of discourses, practices, and institutional formations, the grassroots development apparatus did more than simply give the paras' economic ventures a veneer of symbolic legitimacy; it also enabled and worked in conjunction with the concrete practices of paramilitary rule. Grassroots development was thus both a means of state building and a way of laundering their violently and illegally accumulated landholdings.

Keywords:   grassroots development, state building, paramilitary landholdings, symbolic legitimacy, criminal economy, extralegal political economy, land grabs

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