In 2009, the Colombian Constitutional Court issued Order 004 to compel the national government to lead Ethnic Safeguarding Plans (ESPs) aimed to prevent the cultural and physical extinction of thirty-four groups of indigenous peoples threatened by forced displacement (Colombia, “Auto 004” 43). Given the urgent need for the state to grant sufficient attention to these groups, the court established a deadline of six months for the state to create and implement these plans. However, this has taken longer than expected. In view of the number of groups threatened by displacement, in 2012, the Colombian Ministry of Internal Affairs extended the ESP initiative to more than seventy-three indigenous communities (Colombia, “Informe De Avance Presentado a La Honorable Corte Constitucional” 8). As of December 2015, four plans were completed, fifteen were in their implementation phase, and thirty-eight assessment documents related to ESPs were available on the ministry's website (Colombia, “Informe De Avance Presentado a La Honorable Corte Constitucional”; Ministerio del Interior). For the Witoto of Leticia, Amazonas, the assessment phase of their ESP has entailed an intercultural negotiation between their indigenous knowledge of law and international and state procedures, institutions, and concepts related to human rights.
This chapter explores some complexities in the negotiations between local and global views of rights through the case study of the Leticia Witoto Ethnic Safeguarding Plan. From the interdisciplinary field of communication studies, I see this plan as a relational process that localizes the universal discourse of human rights in the cultural practices and understanding of the Witoto and ten additional indigenous groups located in the Leticia area. Like other global processes, the international discourse of human rights needs localization to be effective. In Santos's view, a critical analysis of human rights illustrates that there is no entity without local roots, nor globalization without localization (“Por uma concepcao multicultural dos direitos humanos” 14–15). Similarly, Hall recalls that, instead of a homogenizing process that undermines diversity, globalization is possible through negotiation with local cultures: “What we usually call the global … negotiates particular spaces, particular ethnicities, works through mobilizing particular identities and so on.
Conservative political leader Laureano Gomez intervened in a long-standing public debate in Colombia about “racial degeneration” in 1928. He argued that because of Colombia's location in the tropical zone—in the same latitude “as Malaca, French Congo, Niam-Niam y Liberia” (28)—and the fact that its population comprised “lesser races,” the country would not be able to partake in “the concert of Western Civilization” unless a “greenhouse culture,” commanded by whites inhabiting the temperate Andean highlands, reoriented the nation toward civilization. These talks, which initially took place in Bogota's Teatro Municipal and were later published as Interrogantes sobre el progreso de Colombia, were attended by an audience composed not only by lettered elites but also by a rising middle-class.
Gomez's lectures made a deep impression at the time, arousing passionate debates in the national media. His topic (Colombia and world progress) and his argument—that Colombia could not progress because of its tropical nature—provoked all sorts of reactions. Giving voice to an elite angst concerning the slow progress of the Colombian civilizing project in comparison not only to the United States but more unsettlingly to other Latin American countries, Gomez argued that Colombia's hot climate— and in particular its jungle—stood in the way of it becoming a civilized nation. If not addressed, disease, humidity, deceiving abundance, and “degenerate races” threatened to invade the civilized centers of the temperate highlands. This is how Gomez imagined a primeval jungle taking over the center of the country, as an anticivilizing force that only a greenhouse culture could subdue: “Si con la imaginacion suprimieramos de nuestro territorio los levantamientos andinos, veriamos la manigua del Magdalena juntarse con la del Patia y el San Juan, el Putumayo y el Orinoco. La selva soberana y brutal, hueca e inutil, o las vastas praderas herbaceas y anegadizas se extenderian de un mar a otro mar apenas pobladas por tribus vagabundas.” (28; If with imagination we were to suppress the Andean upheavals from our territory, we would see the Magdalena jungle join the Patia and San Juan, Putumayo and Orinoco.
Para mi primo E.
Ahora que por fin eres libre y con tanto amor alrededor, tus amores invisibles, tus petalos sin color, tus capsulas rosadas llenas de corazones son analgesicos que solo dejan dolor.
Now that you're finally free and with so much love around, invisible your loves, your petals without color, your pink capsules filled with hearts are analgesics leaving only pain.]
In the realm of the Colombian music industry, gender politics is not a common topic. Aside from latent critiques of established gender roles in the work of rocker Andrea Echeverri (the vocalist for the band Aterciopelados), Bomba Estereo lead singer and phenom of the neotropical sound Liliana Saumet, and global pop star Shakira, who embraced a confessional tone in her initial compositions, gradually maturing to a more assertive position, little has been accomplished. By and large, musical production that is critical of Colombian gender politics has not circulated widely. For the most part, the problematization of gender has focused on discrimination toward women, sanctioning a socially acceptable, or heterosexist, reading of Colombia. For instance, in connection with the work of Shakira, Maria Elena Cepeda alludes to themes of adultery, betrayal, and the balance of power between men and women in “La tortura” (The torture), the first video from Fijación oral, vol. 1, highlighting the role of the senses (e.g., scopophilia) in the definition of socially constructed power (Cepeda 235–52). On the other hand, despite bearing out and processing many of her nation's traumas, Echeverri has been remarkably heteronormative in her critiques of gender constructs within Colombia's society (Morello 38–53). In fact, Echeverri's first solo album is an ode to motherhood, in which she muses about the impact of the experience in a very sympathetic fashion (Norris). In this sense, despite some hits suggestive of a more progressive stance, when it comes to critiques of gender, the rocker's conservative politics stand in stark contrast to Shakira's more permissive views. Saumet strikes a slightly different tone in “La nina rica” (Rich girl), the eighth track from the blockbuster album Estalla.
In September 2012 the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia– Ejercito del Pueblo (FARC-EP; Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia– People's Army) released a homemade rap video announcing its readiness to participate in peace talks with the President Juan Manuel Santos. Available on YouTube, the clip shows four young rebels playing guitar and drums and singing rhymes about traveling to Cuba and intervening in the peace negotiations. Also, the guerilla members mock President Santos by echoing popular comments about his physical appearance. The video aroused hostility and suspicion in the prevailing media. Some newspapers and TV commentators questioned the clip's authenticity while others condemned its “lack of sophistication” or “bizarre” character. Absent from the public discussion was the guerillas’ decision to welcome the peace talks with a musical declaration. But this rap video was not the first musical intervention of the FARC-EP in contexts of peace talks. Back in 2000, the guerrilla musical group of Julian Conrado and Los Companeros livened up several encounters during the political negotiations between the guerrillas and the Pastrana government. At that time, international official delegations and local audiences attended guerrilla concerts and learned about Fariano cultural policies. But why have the rebels chosen to intervene in peace talks through musical performances? In this chapter I show that musical practices became compelling political means among the guerillas. I explore music produced by artists belonging to the FARC-EP guerrillas (including Julian Conrado and Los Companeros, Lucas Iguaran, and Christian Perez) and argue that, through rhythms, lyrics, and musical discourses, these Fariano artists constructed combatants as belonging to the Colombian nation, as reflecting regional identities and as sharing a commonality of knowledge with others in Colombian society. Additionally, in their music Farianos reshape the meaning of their collective struggle and disseminate personal stories throughout a geographically and territorially unwieldy organization.
The Fortuitous Configuration of a Research Topic: Sources and Assumptions
Between 1997 and 2006 I worked at the Jesuit organization Center of Research and Popular Education (CINEP; Centro de Investigacion y Educacion Popular), one of the oldest Colombian NGOs. Taking advantage of CINEP involvement with the Catholic Church and its constant presence on the field, my research team traced the history of the Colombian armed actors and their complex relationships with regional societies and the state.
Conflict seems to be everywhere in Colombia. From the most egregious and incomprehensible violent actions to the catchiest musical tunes, from the remotest rural areas to burgeoning urban enclaves, from the ruling privileged elites to the socially forgotten and the dispossessed, conflict has long codified most political and cultural endeavors in this South American nation. Taking this (somewhat overgeneralizing) opening statement as our premise, Territories of Conflict investigates Colombia's violent past and present (e.g., guerrilla and paramilitary warfare, drug trafficking, kidnappings), inaccessible geography, and multiple ethnic and indigenous conflicts to precisely address the territoriality of dissension—namely, geographical and political spaces ruled by contested discourses that have for centuries dominated its national body politic. Conflict, in a sense, defines Colombia as a nation and continues to permeate its political discourse and cultural production (almost) to the point of no return. It is through conflict that the nation's social and cultural fabrics are being mapped, thus resulting in territories— understood both in a literal and metaphorical sense—that exist (if not “thrive”) in discordance. Thus, conflict in Colombia appears, more often than not, to be a creative force that is not fully devoid of its destructive meaning. Whether self-consciously or not, cultural producers have fully embraced this paradox as they openly reject conflict while simultaneously using (and needing) it for their creative projects.
The volume's contributors address this contradictory relationship between conflict and cultural production from multiple and converging perspectives. They see the extreme class disparity and widespread social injustice in Colombia as the point of departure for its racial, ethnic, geographical, and social heterogeneity, which then favors extreme political alignments when it comes to conflict resolution (see Fernandez L'Hoeste's chapter in this volume). Likewise, it is important to bear in mind that, in the case of Colombia, conflict is primarily based not on the establishment of national or regional borders (where most national conflicts typically arise) but rather on the “contestation over belonging to a fictional category of Colombianness [colombianidad], built over stories of liberation, oppression and encounters,” as Salamanca's chapter contends.
Firm Hand, Big Heart … Then a Second Independence?
Colombia presents a history that is not one but multiple, not convergent but divergent. Its suffering—so important for Renan, who emphasizes the role of shared “suffering” at the hands of others in constituting a nation (19)—is of its own devising and has produced not unity but division. It is every day acknowledged that there is no national culture, that Colombia is a country of regions and regionalisms; the nominally national state has never even come close to making good on the idea that it should be present and effective in the remotest corners of the territory, nor to monopolizing the means of violence. And indeed, the current constitution gives up on the very idea of nation, for which wars of independence and revolution were fought, an idea that was compelling insofar as it offered identity, unity, and community in place of difference, fragmentation, alienation, and anomie. Worse still, though the current constitution and the break with the nineteenth-century idea of nation were expected to lead to the pacification and democratization of the political process, political violence has only continued. Colombia's founding violence—which Renan, again, insists needs be lost in the mists of time if the nation is to cohere—is unfortunately ever renewed and thus obscenely unforgettable. Neoliberal politics have taken their toll too. In the early nineties, during the presidency of Cesar Gaviria, Colombia liberalized its economy, leading to the structural dislocations that we've seen in so many countries in recent decades. Many of the wealthy were humbled by bankruptcy, and the poor became even poorer. While the legitimate economy more or less seized up, the illegal economy based on narco-trafficking blossomed. Indeed, since the latter did provide some nice multiplier effects, many were quite happy to turn a blind eye to it. Others, including the sectors of the armed forces, actively participated.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the country seemed be in free fall, and commentators were not averse to talking of a failed state (Browitt; McLean; Richani; Rotberg; see also DeShazo, Primiani, and Mclean, whose point of departure for their recent study of Colombia is that in 1999 the country was “on the brink of collapse”).
Colombia has the second-highest casualty rate of land-mine victims in the world, after Afghanistan. In fact, the former Landmine Observatory—currently named the Mine Action National Office (Direccion para la Accion Integral Contra Minas Antipersonal) and one of the sources of data about land mines in Colombia—shows a dramatic increase in casualties. While in 2000 the casualties did not exceed 137 per year, in 2011 there were 549 victims either maimed or killed by land mines, which means that there was on average one victim per day (Direccion para la Accion Integral Contra Minas Antipersonal). The problem has intensified in the last few years because of increased military presence and the push by illegal armed groups to maintain the control of certain areas, particularly those where their coca plantations are located. Furthermore, 98 percent of accidents and incidents occurred in rural areas of the country, of which 82 percent of the victims were injured; 30 percent of them are civilians and 7 percent are children. As a result, land mines have been the recent focus of governmental programs, NGOs, and public campaigns.
Remangate (Roll up your pant leg) is one of these endeavors. On April 4, 2011, as part of the International Day for Landmine Awareness, the campaign kicked off. This highly publicized campaign was an initiative by the Mine Action National Authority and several NGOs to create awareness about land mines and their victims in Colombia. The slogan of the campaign was “Por un dia pongamonos en su zapato” (For one day, let's step into their shoe), referring to the general assumption that Colombians are not aware of or are indifferent to the problem of land mines in the country. On that day, people all over the country were invited to remángarse (roll up their pant leg) as a symbolic act. As part of the advertising of Remangate, a highly visible and successful video was launched. The short video circulated on TV, radio, and the Internet and featured the participation of famous actors, actresses, models, directors, and wellknown entrepreneurs who invited the community to “roll it up” (remángarse).
History—or, putting it more precisely, constructions of the past—have an important function for the self-image of states and nations. They explain the origin of the nation, they legitimate the existence of the present state, and they push citizens toward a common project that stabilizes and guarantees a common future. In the nineteenth century, when most of the Western nations were consolidated, the invention of founding myths contributed to their self-definition as a group of people bound together by destiny. They did this through emphasizing historic continuity, common traditions, overcoming a common enemy, or common suffering in difficult times. Germany, for example, imagined the origin of the German nation with the victory of a Germanic tribe over the Romans in AD 9. France's founding moment related to the baptism of the Merovingian king Clovis I around the year 500. The United States saw its continuity linked to the arrival of the Pilgrim fathers at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Colombia celebrates its independence in 1810 as the birth of a nation and a state.
Today, in a more global world, national myths may have changed. They may not be as belligerent as they used to be, and they even can, in a certain way, be supranational. The Holocaust, for example, turned out to be a reference point and a (negative) founding myth for many countries, especially in Europe (Welzer and Lenz 1–24). But the purpose of constructions of history remains the same. The cultural memory of a nation preserves what seems important to the group and what defines it. According to cultural scientist Jan Assmann, “The concept of cultural memory comprises that body of reusable texts, images and rituals specific to each society in each epoch whose ‘cultivation’ serves to stabilize and convey that society's self-image. Upon such collective knowledge, for the most part (but not exclusively) of the past, each group bases its awareness of unity and particularity” (132). Yet, as the demands of the present can change, the contents of the past have to be reconstructed, reinterpreted, or even altered to meet the new needs. Indeed, within national memories, this revision of historical facts is a slow but permanent process (A. Assmann, Geschichte 11).
Currently, few musical expressions are as massive and as popular in Colombia as the so-called New Colombian Music (NCM). The term NCM has been used in recent years to refer to a marked tendency between young musicians who seek to “recover and reinterpret the local music” through an ambiguous and undetermined musical form (Santamaria 2). Drawing on other musical genres—for example, bambuco, cumbia, vallenato—that in the past were elevated to the status of “national music,” it is difficult to associate NCM with a specifc region within the Colombian territory. Nonetheless, the NCM label has demonstrated a strategic elasticity to market new national sounds and to connect these with World Music global festivals, as well as with state cultural politics and mass media agenda. Thanks to media dissemination, these “wordly” music productions blur and superimpose local and national identities as well as the public and private divide.
The process of NCM popularization in the national and international arenas has been possible thanks to diverse political, economic, and cultural dynamics: the celebration of cultural diversity that followed the adoption of the new Constitution in 1991; the multicultural rhetoric of the market and certain cultural circuits; the growing importance of cultural industries in the national economy; the constant demographic and migratory movements within and outside the country; the implementation of Colombia Is Passion and The Answer Is Colombia, the two institutional campaigns that branded Colombia and aligned the nation within territorial marketing logics to create an attractive destination for the foreign investor as well as tourists. Significantly, several of these dynamics emerging from the NCM phenomenon can be found in media outlets such as Al Jazeera English's Playlist: “Colombia, although sadly widely known for its drugs trade and violent, internal conflicts, is also witnessing a new musical movement, as a growing number of passionate and vocal musicians are keen to show their country in a new light…. The future of Colombian music may well lie in fusion, as bands seek out international audiences for their unique sounds.”
Most scholars presume that Colombians have a weak national identity that remains “under construction” and undermines political efforts at state construction (Gonzalez; Bushnell). For example, Fischer states that “the Colombian state is weak because of the weak articulation of the Colombian nation” (186). Political elites are blamed for failing to articulate a strong national identity or produce symbols of national unity (Pecaut; Palacios and Safford; Sousa Santos and Garcia Villegas). This elite failure is said to have resulted in a “fragmented” nation, with people identifying first and foremost with a region or political party instead of the nation-state (Gonzalez, Bolivar, and Vasquez). This “incomplete construction of national identity” is thought to have impeded the state from transcending either geographic or social boundaries (Rodriguez, Garcia-Villegas, and Uprimny, 138).
Explaining Colombian state failure through national failure, however, is a tautological argument. Moreover, it does not shed light into what kinds of collective imaginings Colombians do share. Rather than relying on binary conceptions of national identity as absent or present, I seek to describe the quality and content of at least one component of contemporary Colombian collective imagining. Nation-states are not simply authored by political elite or imaged through print capitalism; the consumption of material commodities, images, and symbols also constructs national identity (Coronil; Anderson). Spectacles invite people to participate in the construction of political power while allowing for contradiction, repetition, the omission of inconvenient truths, partial truth telling, and various interpretations. Gender and the nuclear family provide some of the most easily imitated and elastic scripts for official performances that establish the protocol for public conduct and practices of national belonging, particularly in moments of crisis (Caldeira; Taylor; Wedeen; Norton; McClintock; Butler). Recurrence of these familiar tropes is particularly depoliticizing, naturalizing political decisions and power imbalances.
In this chapter, I argue that Colombians have constructed a collective national identity based on the consumption of coffee culture. Rituals of coffee culture invite citizens to engage in easily recognizable and widely reproduced performances of national belonging. Nationally, the spectacle of the coffee economy unites fragmented regional identities behind the image of one common coffee culture that is marked by the absence of historic inequities. In the first section, I discuss the origins and collapse of the coffee state.
“Enfrentar el fantasma del capo no es hacerle apologia.”
[Facing the ghost of El Capo does not make an apology for his actions]
The memory of Pablo Escobar constitutes a painful wound in the Colombian psyche, evoking terrorism, corruption, and unparalleled violence. In his war against the state, the infamous Medellin capo left the nation in shambles, almost single-handedly tainting its image to the rest of the world. Two decades have passed since Escobar's death, and drug trafficking has evolved into less flamboyant narco-paramilitary alliances, yet the capo's name continues to appear with insistence both in political and cultural discourses. The subject invariably elicits passionate reactions, provoking both repulsion and fascination. In the process, and to the chagrin of many, he has become a fixture of popular culture, as well as a sought-after commodity.
Escobar's persona has transformed into a modern icon of consumption, opening old wounds and fanning the flames of long-standing disputes. After all, outlaws have been a ubiquitous fixture in the film industry since its earliest days, substantiating the marketability of criminals in global popular culture (Parker 111). It is said that the two Botero paintings depicting Escobar's death draw the largest crowds in the Museo de Antioquia, while Pablo T-shirts sell in souvenir shops and Escobar-themed tours are growing in popularity. In short, Escobar is becoming an unquestionable media favorite, a myth-turned-moneymaking-machine that extends beyond Colombia's borders. As Omar Rincon quipped, Escobar “es tan narco que convierte en oro todo lo que toca” (Lopez par. 2; he is so narco that turns everything he touches to gold).
This chapter explores the discourses born out of Escobar's shadow, beginning with the premise that popular culture is a site of struggle among the interests of different groups from the elites through the masses. This is in conjunction with the universal appeal of crime narratives, the iconic “celebrated villain,” and the subsequent demands of consumerism.
One cold afternoon in 1976 a group of friends got together to play some music at one of the plazas of the National University of Colombia in Bogota. They began playing protest songs from Cuba, Argentina, Chile, and Venezuela to express their nonconformity with the situation of the country and with the political discourse that prevailed at the time. After playing a few songs, Jorge Velosa, a young boyacense who studied veterinary science, made the point that they should be using their own rhythms and melodies instead of imitating those of others. He took the requinto de tiple and played some merengue campesino from the Andean highlands of Colombia. Soon after, a new genre called carranguera music was born, with Velosa as its most important pioneer.
This fictional anecdote, reconstructed from accounts of how the genre was born, serves to illustrate one of the main purposes of its creation: that of advocating the autochthonous expressions from the Andean countryside. Velosa took the merengue campesino, the most popular rhythm in the rural areas of this region during the 1970s and 1980s, and combined it with innovative lyrics, structured in the traditional form of copla, full of anecdotes and idioms that reflect the region's speech, lifestyle, and worldview. What gave carranguera music its identity and made it distinct from the Andean merengue was that Velosa gave an especial emphasis to the role of the requinto, a traditional instrument that, by then, was almost forgotten and out of use, thus creating a new musical genre that he named carranguera.
This music developed in the countryside and as a peasant cultural expression in a marginalized context. This is because in Colombia many areas of the countryside lack utilities, education, roads, or medical services. In addition, often when the peasants migrate to the city, they arrive to fill the lower segments of society as urban marginal groups. Furthermore, in the context of Latin America with the advancement of capitalism and modernity, when nations grew more urban and technologically advanced, the traditional peasant community and culture became excluded. Thus, carranguera music developed as a cultural expression of a subordinate group within society.
Caricaturas, monos, or monachos (comics) have been produced in Colombia by Colombian authors for almost a century, but their production seems sporadic and scarce when compared to that of Argentina, Mexico, or Brazil, which are Latin American countries with robust and long-standing comic traditions. Studies and accounts of Colombian comics have also been infrequent, in most cases leaving it up to the artists themselves to chronicle, theorize, and analyze their medium, as a quote from comics artist Truchafrita's Decálogo para el dibujante de historietas en Colombia may illustrate well: “No hay historietas en Colombia, pero seguiremos dibujandolas” (Jimenez Quiroz 1; We have no cartoons in Colombia, but we'll keep drawing them). Daniel Rabanal, a prominent example of the comics artist / historian, attributes the differences in the development of the comics industry in Colombia visa- vis other Latin American countries mainly to three factors: (1) the belated development of a modern urban culture, translated into a lack of potential audiences for these types of publications; (2) the absence of institutional support; and (3) the comparatively lower cost of imported comics (Rabanal).
The comic strip Mojicón by Adolfo Samper is commonly credited as the first work of the genre published in Colombia by a Colombian author (Rabanal; Forero Baron; Garzon; Guerra, “Panorama,” “Para entender”; Jimenez Quiroz). Appearing between 1924 and 1930 in the pages of the independent newspaper Mundo al Día, Mojicón was an adaptation of Walter Berndt's Smitty, a comic strip published in the United States. The humorous stories of Mojicón were set in a developing Bogota in which the downtown area operated as the hub of activity for all daily matters. It emphasized love and friendship among its protagonists and awarded a central role to the family. What Mojicón lacked was a distinct sense of identity that critics find emerging only later on, during the sixties and seventies, with the work of Ernesto Franco, Carlos Garzon, and Jorge Pena. Much of the production spanning the almost two decades of this second stage consisted of political cartoons or graphic humor distributed nationally through newspapers like El Tiempo and El Espectador. Copetín, declared in the year 2000 to be the most exemplary symbol of Colombian comics, was published by Franco in the pages of El Tiempo for more than three decades starting in 1962, reaching a wide audience.
For most Colombians, April 9, 1948, stands as the most significant turning point in the twentieth century. Accordingly, the assassination of Liberal presidential candidate Jorge Eliecer Gaitan and the subsequent devastation of the country's capital by his followers triggered a spiral of violence that continues until today. April 9—often referred to as El Bogotazo—is therefore interpreted as a “seminal catastrophe” that divided the twentieth century into two halves. Whereas the years between the War of a Thousand Days (1899–1902) and the assassination of Gaitan are commonly associated with stability and peace, today's civil-war-like conditions are frequently seen as a direct consequence of the murder. In this perspective, the oftcited “crime of the century” is regarded as the starting point for political struggles that gradually evolved into the establishment of left- and rightwing armed groups (Schuster 52). In fact, leftist guerrillas like the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC; Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), which despite recent peace talks still lead a bloody war against the state on the back of civil society, have their roots in the time of La Violencia. It is also true that the young Fidel Castro was wandering the streets of Bogota the very day of April 9, 1948, which some have taken as evidence of a “Communist conspiracy.” Following this theory, political violence was supposedly brought to Colombia from the “outside.” These and similar interpretations have in common the reduction of Colombia's complicated history of violence to individual actors and dualistic schemes. Depending on political affiliation, different actors are held responsible for the murder: the Conservatives, the Communists, the Central Intelligence Agency, and so on. Or was it, after all, the act of a lunatic? We do not know for sure. Since the alleged murderer Juan Roa Sierra probably suffered from delusions and was lynched immediately after the attack by an angry mob, El Bogotazo offers itself as projection screen for all kinds of conspiracy theories (Braun 263–72).
Although none of these interpretations is outright wrong, they do not recount the whole story either. Thus, the two traditional parties—the Liberals and the Conservatives—politically exploited the figure of the liberal tribune just shortly after his murder. By manipulating historical facts, both tried to construct the myth of a popular martyr who would not belong to any specific political entity.
For twenty-five centuries, Western knowledge has tried to look upon the world. It has failed to understand that the world is not for the beholding. It is for hearing. It is not legible, but audible.
Auscultation, a term that comes from the Latin verb auscultare (to listen), is the process by which medical doctors listen to the interior of the human body using a stethoscope for examination. The stethoscope was invented in France in 1816; however, the act of listening to the body for diagnostic purposes precedes the invention of the artifact. By inventing the stethoscope, Rene Laennec only refined one of the procedures that were commonly used by doctors, which consisted of placing the ear directly on the patient's chest to hear the organs inside the body. Auscultation is still used as a regular medical procedure that links sound with specific pathological changes in both the chest and the heart.
While auscultation has been used to diagnose the human body for centuries, approaching sound as an object of study is a very recent phenomenon. One of the first attempts at introducing sound as means to exploring a landscape was suggested by Finnish geographer Johannes Gabriel Grano, who at the end of the 1920s invited other fellow geographers to “look” at a landscape with more than just the eyes, to survey the site with all their senses, including hearing (Uimonen). Urban planners like Kevin Lynch and Michael Southworth introduced the variable of sound (and the sensory experience) to the research conducted on urban spaces since the early 1960s. However, it was not until 1970s that Canadian composer, music educator, and environmentalist Raymond Murray Schafer formally introduced the study of sound through the term “soundscape.”
The soundscape is an acoustic examination of an environment, which can consist of natural sounds as well as those produced by humans as a result of the activities and social practices that take place in a given area. The interest in exploring soundscapes originated at Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, Canada) where Schafer and his colleagues first launched the World Soundscape Project. The idea emerged from Schafer's preoccupation with the deterioration of the soundscape of his city. The first of the projects, The Vancouver Soundscape, aimed at raising awareness of noise pollution and drawing attention to the importance of preserving and constructing healthy sonic environments.
Amid its growing visibility in the transnational sphere, Colombian cinema of the first decades of the twenty-first century has increasingly turned to the countryside to narrate untold stories about rural life, nature, tourism, and violent conflict. These audiovisual mappings of rural spaces, lives, and journeys emerge at a time of major historical changes shaping the Colombian countryside. Among these are the intensification of armed conflict and the militarization of many rural areas at the turn of the twentieth century, massive internal displacements and peasant struggles for land ownership, territorial reconfigurations produced by the expansion of extractive economies, and, more recently, processes of transitional justice and concomitant postconflict discourses, as well as official tourism and investment campaigns that promote rural regions for travel and development. In this context, a number of films that showcase the journeys of characters and cameras across rural space engage with and, in certain cases, dismantle, the logics of tourism and war that are central to the visual production of landscape in contemporary times, underscoring the complex relationships between the nation and what have been historically considered its “natural frontiers.”
Seldom featured in earlier Colombian films, the rising number of fiction and documentary films focusing on life in rural regions and natural frontiers also emerge in the context of the implementation of Colombia's new legal framework for the production and the promotion of film passed in 2003 that has successfully improved the quality, diversity, and number of films produced in the country. Films such as Los viajes del viento (2009), El vuelco del cangrejo (2009), Los colores de la montaña (2010), Apaporis, en busca del río (2010), Chocó (2012), Corta (2012), Jardín de amapolas (2012), La sirga (2013), Tierra en la lengua (2014), La tierra y la sombra (2015), Alias María (2015), El abrazo de la serpiente (2015), and Oscuro animal (2016) have circulated in important international festivals worldwide. They signal a stark departure from the fixation that many Colombian filmmakers have had with urban topographies and drug-related violence in urban areas during the 1990s and the beginning of the twenty-first century.
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