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Chemical warfare in Colombia, evidentiary ecologies and senti-actuando practices of justice.

Abstract

Between 1994 and 2015, militarized aerial fumigation was a central component of US-Colombia antidrug policy. Crop duster planes sprayed a concentrated formula of Monsanto's herbicide, glyphosate, over illicit crops, and also forests, soils, pastures, livestock, watersheds, subsistence food and human bodies. Given that a national peace agreement was signed in 2016 between FARC-EP guerrillas and the state to end Colombia's over five decades of war, certain government officials are quick to proclaim aerial fumigation of glyphosate an issue of the past. Rural communities, however, file quejas (complaints or grievances) seeking compensation from the state for the ongoing effects of the destruction of their licit agro-forestry. At the interfaces of feminist science and technology studies and anthropology, this article examines how evidentiary claims are mobilized when war deeply politicizes and moralizes technoscientific knowledge production. By ethnographically tracking the grievances filed by small farmers, I reveal the extent to which evidence circulating in zones of war - tree seedlings, subsistence crops, GPS coordinates and bureaucratic documents - retains (or not) the imprints of violence and toxicity. Given the systematic rejection of compensation claims, farmers engage in everyday material practices that attempt to transform chemically degraded ecologies. These everyday actualizations of justice exist both alongside and outside contestation over the geopolitically backed violence of state law. Rather than simply contrasting everyday acts of justice with denunciatory claims made against the state, farmers' reparative practices produce an evidentiary ecology that holds the state accountable while also ' senti-actuando' (feel-acting) alternative forms of justice.

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