Story-ing territory . The politics of black women’s storytelling in spaces of oil palm expansion in Colombia

Authors: Eloisa Berman-Arevalo*,
Topics: Political Geography, Women, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: storytelling, black communities, agro-industry, Latin America
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 6:20 PM
Room: Grand Ballroom D, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The confluence between ‘peace’ and agro-capitalist expansion in Colombia’s ‘post-conflict’, makes this conjuncture a fertile terrain for agrarian politics. Dominant narratives read post-conflict politics through linear temporalities, bounded moments, ready-made spatial categories and visible instances of ‘resistance’. This reading not only occludes the continuation of violence and structural inequalities in agrarian spaces, but conceals alternative conjunctural politics that operate through different temporalites and spatialities. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in a rural village of Colombia’s Caribbean surrounded by palm oil plantations, this paper engages alternative political responses to agro-industrial expansion by exploring how gendered knowledge, agrarian politics and territory come together through women’s everyday stories and storytelling. It argues that storytelling constitutes an emplaced and embodied political response to agro-capitalist expansion. Stories reanimate the past in the present, narrating past experiences of agrarian life through the register of the ordinary and revealing how women’s bodies and social practices produced territory by inhabiting agrarian places through everyday movements and sociality. Through stories, women claim their role as ‘knowers of the land’ and inscribe personal experiences and ordinary practices of care and reproduction onto contemporary spaces of exclusion- thereby making territory within agro-industrial spatial regimes. Drawing on Latin American intellectual-activist understandings of territory, the paper emphasizes the potential of everyday socio-spatial practices in making and protecting territories of collective afro-campesino life (Escobar 2008). However, rather than conceiving ‘territory’ as a rights claim based on cultural difference, it draws of feminist geographies to discuss the territorial agency of bodies and stories in everyday life.

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