Law in a Lawless Land by Michael Taussig
Diary of a Limpieza

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The town needs to get 300 coffins ready. Heads Up! The priest better be ready to work overtime. —flier from Colombian paramilitaries announcing their arrival

In January 2003, U.S. troops were sent to Colombia to train army units engaged in a bloody civil war, deepening a multibillion-dollar American commitment that makes that country the third-largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid.

Despite the potential for disaster embodied in the U.S.’s looming entanglement with another jungle war, America’s role in Colombia has received little critical media attention. The interlacing of terror, drugs and oil with endemic political instability makes the country a likely international flashpoint in the near future.

In this stunning account of Colombian violence and disorder, acclaimed anthropologist Michael Taussig recounts two weeks in a village under siege by paramilitaries. Routinely visited by autodefensas brandishing weapons and a laptop containing a list of names, victims are rounded up, tortured, and killed, their bodies left on display as a warning to others. In his diary of the limpieza (the “cleaning”), Taussig offers unusual insight into the nature of Colombia’s present peril and a nuanced account of the human consequences of a disintegrating state.


About Michael Taussig

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Michael Taussig began conducting fieldwork in Colombia in 1969. He is a professor of anthropology at Columbia University and the author of Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man; Mimesis and Alterity; and The Magic of the State, among other books.
Published November 1, 2003 by New Press, The. 256 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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Limpieza , or "cleansing," is carried out town by town and involves the seemingly random killing of those who may or may not be contributing to the persistent disorder and violence, and may or may not be sympathetic to the FARC, ELN or M-19 guerrillas.

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