Complementing Development: Evolving Relationships Between the State, Armed Groups, and Local Communities in Colombia
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Complementing Development: Evolving Relationships Between the State, Armed Groups, and Local Communities During Infrastructure Implementation in Colombia
In conflict areas, lack of infrastructure is often cited as one of the main reasons for state absence. As a result, infrastructure interventions seek to re-impose the presence of the state in territories where it has been historically absent. However, these territories are not vacuums of order, and infrastructure interventions by the state must contend with existing informal governance actors. In Colombia, these actors include non-state armed groups such as guerrilla, paramilitary, criminal, and composites of the three. This paper examines how infrastructure projects in conflict regions in Colombia, particularly roads seeking to promote economic growth, confronts and negotiates the authority of armed groups. Drawing from extensive field research in 2018 and 2019 in Colombia, particularly in the department of Nariño, this paper outlines how the state and armed groups seek to secure community support during infrastructure interventions to retain a comparative advantage in the territory. I argue that state officials strategically build relationships with local communities to gain territorial access during infrastructure interventions as armed groups are pressured to acquiesce by local communities in order to retain their support. Drawing from work on hybrid governance, mediated stateness, and informal political orders, this research interrogates how competition between the state and armed groups over territorial presence can lead to tact coexistence rather than violent conflict during infrastructure interventions.
Clara Voyvodic, University of Oxford
Clara Voyvodic is a 4th year PhD researcher in International Relations in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford. Her current research for her doctoral degree is on the impact of armed politics during state-led infrastructure projects on local social orders in Colombia. She has an Ma in International Relations from the University of St Andrews and holds an Msc in Transnational Crime, Justice, and Security from the University of Glasgow for which she was a Carnegie Scholar. She also worked as a research assistant at the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research. Prior to coming to Oxford, Clara had worked at Interpol in Lyon, France. Her research interests include development and security, extralegal and non-state forms of governance, armed groups, organized criminal networks, and illicit economies. She is also interested in qualitative methods and ethics in fieldwork in conflict and contentious areas.