Narco-Frontiers: A Spatial Framework for Drug Fueled-Accumulation

by Teo Ballvé

Published by Journal of Agrarian Change, Journal Article, Dec 05, 2018

Based on historical and ethnographic research conducted in a region of northwest Colombia and drawing on the stories of novelist Gabriel García Márquez, this article develops the analytical concept of “narco-frontiers” to help disentangle the confusing political economy of agrarian spaces affected by the violence of the drug war. As socially produced spaces, narco-frontiers emerge through the convergence of four interlocking processes: uneven development, internal colonialism, political violence, and narco-fueled dispossession. Although often depicted as “ungovernable” or “stateless” spaces, narco-frontiers are wracked by extra-legal regimes of rule in which the state is simply one actor among others. With the drug trade inducing violent agrarian change all over the world—from Colombia to Afghanistan, Burma to Central America—this article offers a spatial-historical framework for understanding these dramatic transformations.

Keywords: Frontiers; Drug Trafficking; Colombia; García Márquez; Uneven Development; Violence; Internal Colonialism; Dispossession

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