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Project | 01

Maraña: Leishmaniasis and the Pharmaceuticalization of War in Colombia

This ethnographic monograph explores how the Colombian armed conflict and a vector-borne disease called cutaneous leishmaniasis are inextricably connected and mutually constitutive. The stigmatization of the illness as “the guerrilla disease” is reinforced by the state’s restriction on access to antileishmanial medicines, a measure that is commonly interpreted as a warfare strategy to affect insurgent groups. Situated at the intersection between STS and critical medical anthropology, this work draws on multi-sited field research conducted during the peace implementation period after the agreement reached by the Colombian government and FARC, the oldest and largest guerrilla organization in Latin America. It engages not only with the stigmatization of leishmaniasis patients as guerrilla members and the exclusionary access to antileishmanial drugs but also with other closely related aspects that constitute the war-shaped experience of leishmaniasis in Colombia. This work illuminates how leishmaniasis has been socially, discursively, and materially constructed as a disease of the war, and how the armed conflict is entangled with the realm of public health, medicine, and especially pharmaceutical drugs.

Project | 02

Diseased Landscapes: Exploring the entanglements between leishmaniasis and coca cultivation in (post)conflict rural Colombia

This project brings together interdisciplinary expertise from Colombia (Interdisciplinary Centre of Development Studies, Universidad de los Andes) and the UK (University of Oxford and King's College London) to explore how the nexus of agricultural extractivism and political conflict affects environmental and human health. Specifically, it addresses the relationship between illegal coca cultivation and the unsteady state of post(conflict)in Colombia through an examination of the political geographies of cutaneous leishmaniasis—a skin disease transmitted by sandflies that thrive in areas of coca production. By investigating how coca growers, harvesters, and eradicators experience leishmaniasis, this project seeks two things. First, it explores the material, sociopolitical and biological conditions of disease in areas characterized by (post)conflict, illicit economies, irregular mobility, and extreme inequality. Second, it uses leishmaniasis as an entry point to develop community-specific policy recommendations to address environmental and human health as conditions for a sustainable transition from war to peace.

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