Reviewed by: American Ethnological Society
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students
Primary Theme: The Visual, Truth and reconciliation
Secondary Theme: Violence
What happens when the affective regimes of militarism and consumer culture collide? In the recently published book, Guerrilla Marketing: Counterinsurgency and Capitalism in Colombia (University of Chicago Press, 2018), Alexander Fattal explores this question and argues that
by outsourcing propaganda and psychological warfare operations to consumer marketers the Colombian Ministry of Defense has modeled a new form of conflict: brand warfare. Through an ethnography of the Colombian government’s efforts to persuade guerrilla fighters to abandon the armed struggle through campaigns crafted by the same advertising firm that manages the brands of Mazda and RedBull, Fattal details the Colombian government’s efforts to transform Marxist guerrilla fighters in the FARC into entrepreneurial subjects and consumer citizens. Guerrilla Marketing examines the limits of branding’s ability to reconcile the irreconcilable — such as an idea promoted by the Colombian government, that of a humanitarian counterinsurgency. Colombia has been used as a laboratory for U.S. Empire and the strategies forged there have circulated to war-torn countries around the globe. Guerrilla Marketing is a case study of the state of war and capitalism in the early twenty-first century — a moment when the simmering fears of the global war on terror’s everywhere war and rising aspirations of the global middle classes expand in tandem.
This roundtable will critically engage with the book’s main argument about emergent forms of affective governance, and also catalyze debate about methodological strategies for researching a security state, the book’s usage of art and testimonials, the United Nation’s loosening grip on demobilization policy transnationally, and the ethnography’s implications for Colombia’s post-peace accord future. Additionally, excerpts from Fattal’s forthcoming experimental film Dreams from the Mountain will be screened to prompt a discussion about the complex relationship between visual anthropology and written monographs.