Disarticulations and commodity chains: cattle, coca, and capital accumulation along Colombia’s agricultural frontier
In this paper I take up Jennifer Bair and Marion Werner’s call for a commodity-chains analysis which is sensitive to particular places and articulated – disarticulated modes of capital accumulation. The analytical fix is on the Lower and Middle Caguán area of Colombia, explaining how the region became articulated into (and disarticulated from) three distinct commodity chains: a domestic cattle commodity chain (1960s until the late 1970s), a global coca commodity chain (late 1970s to the late 1990s), and a global cattle commodity chain (1990s to the present). In doing so, I find that the articulation of the region into each commodity chain rests critically upon the actions of the state and/or state-like forms of political intervention which are an attempt to rectify the class contradictions associated with the particular modes of capital accumulation associated with that chain. The region’s articulation into the domestic ‘hides and meat’ chain rested upon an exclusionary developmental state, its articulation into the global ‘cocaine’ chain rested upon the rise of a proto-state under the leadership of the FARC guerrillas, and its articulation into the global ‘dry milk’ chain has since rested upon a neoliberal state which receives military aid from the US government under the rubric of the War on Drugs and War on Terror initiatives.
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