Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Hunting Indians: Globally Circulating Ideas and Frontier Practices in the Colombian Llanos

  • Carwil Bjork-James (a1)

In the mid-twentieth century, renewed colonization of the Llanos region of Colombia brought escalated violence to the closely related Guahibo and Cuiva peoples. This violence was made public by two dramatic episodes that became international scandals: a December 1967 massacre of sixteen Cuivas at La Rubiera Ranch, and a 1970 military crackdown on an uprising by members of a Guahibo agricultural cooperative in Planas. The scandals exposed both particular human rights abuses and the regional tradition of literally hunting indigenous people, and provoked widespread outrage. While contemporaries treated these events as aberrations, they can best be explained as the consequence of policies that organize and manage frontiers. Both events took place in a region undergoing rapid settlement by migrants, affected by cattle and oil interests, missionaries, the Colombian military, and U.S. counterinsurgency trainers. This paper draws on archival research to trace the events involved and explains their relation to globally circulating policies, practices, and ideas of frontier making. It illustrates how Colombians eager to expand their frontier in the Llanos emulated and adapted ideas of human inequality, moral geographies that make violence acceptable in frontier areas, economic policies that dispossess native peoples, and strategies of counterinsurgency warfare from distant sources. Ironically, their quest for modernity through frontier expansion licensed new deployments of “archaic” violence. The Llanos frontier was thus enmeshed in an interchange of frontier-making techniques that crisscrosses the world, but particularly unites Latin America and the United States.

Corresponding author
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Jeremy Adelman . 2010. The Rites of Statehood: Violence and Sovereignty in Spanish America, 1789–1821. Hispanic American Historical Review 90, 3: 391422.

Nancy P. Appelbaum 2003. Muddied Waters: Race, Region, and Local History in Colombia, 1846–1948. Durham: Duke University Press.

Aimee Bolletino . 2008. Crimes against Humanity in Colombia: The International Criminal Court's Jurisdiction over the May 2003 Attack on the Betoyes Guahibo Indigenous Reserve and Colombian Accountability. Human Rights Review 9, 4: 491511.

Adolfo Gilly . 1965. Guerrillas and ‘Peasant Republics’ in Colombia. Monthly Review 17: 3040.

Erick Detlef Langer . 2002. The Eastern Andean Frontier (Bolivia and Argentina) and Latin American Frontiers: Comparative Contexts (19th and 20th Centuries). The Americas 59, 1: 3363.

Nancy C. Morey and Robert V. Morey . 1973. Foragers and Farmers: Differential Consequences of Spanish Contact. Ethnohistory 20, 3: 229–46.

Marco Palacios . 2006. Between Legitimacy and Violence: A History of Colombia, 1875–2002. Durham: Duke University Press.

An Quijano íbal. 2007. Coloniality and Modernity/Rationality. Cultural Studies 21, 2/3: 168–78.

Jane M. Rausch 2009. Petroleum and the Transformation of the Llanos Frontier in Colombia: 1980 to the Present. Latin Americanist 53, 1: 113–36.

Frank Salomon and Stuart B. Schwartz . 1999. New Peoples and New Kinds of People: Adaptation, Readjustment, and Ethnogenesis in South American Indigenous Societies. In F. Salomon and S. B. Schwartz , eds., South America. Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas, vol. 3, pt. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ricardo D. Salvatore 2008. The Unsettling Location of a Settler Nation: Argentina, from Settler Economy to Failed Developing Nation. South Atlantic Quarterly 107, 4: 755–89.

Irene Silverblatt . 2004. Modern Inquisitions: Peru and the Colonial Origins of the Civilized World. Durham: Duke University Press.

David J. Weber 1986. Turner, the Boltonians, and the Borderlands. American Historical Review 91, 1: 6681.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
  • URL: /core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 2
Total number of PDF views: 17 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 103 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 29th June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.