Thinking with (il)legality: The ethics of living with bonanzas
AuthorBocarejo Suescún, Diana
"By thinking with (il)legality, I show the everyday rhythms and tropes of cultivation and mule driving through which peasants explain their engagements with different legal and illegal economies (marijuana, coca, and tourism) on a coastal mountainside in Colombia. I explore how peasants engage in ethical deliberations drawn from everyday practices through which they try to live “the best possible life” in very volatile contexts, while also providing a trenchant critique of the state, legality, and corruption. In this community, the talk about and pragmatic use of (il)legality and corruption are full of judgments about the right, the good, and the decent, or at least “the better than.” I analyze how law and electoral politics, the state and the judiciary, are not where peasants chiefly look for their theories of right and wrong. Peasants perceive corruption as practices shaped within the law, especially when the law does not comply with the legitimate claims of fairness or justice. Illegality may be an unexpected consequence of otherwise ethical judgments, but corruption, in contrast, is not redeemable. The distance that campesinos feel from corruption is not a triumphalist account of their ethical authority but instead marks the impossibility of their inclusion in either petty clientelism or urban middle-class anti-corruption platforms. © 2018 by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research."
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