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Supernatural Bulletproof Men: An Ethnography of Sorcery and Paramilitary Power in Colombian Eastern Plains

Perez Gomez, Johanna; (2022) Supernatural Bulletproof Men: An Ethnography of Sorcery and Paramilitary Power in Colombian Eastern Plains. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis is an ethnographic exploration of cruzados - men who turned to sorcery to become bulletproof. Such practice was popular among paramilitary groups during their expansion in the Colombian Eastern Plains throughout the 1990s and 2000s. Based on 13 months of fieldwork in a former paramilitary stronghold, this study asks what cruzados reveal about paramilitary power. It does so by analysing the ritual to become cruzados – a process through which bulletproof powers are created by producing “unhuman” bodies. I explore how the “unhuman” become at the same time “de-humanised” and “inhumane” through paramilitary war. Cruzados engender mystical and physical terror, producing paramilitary power as something residing in the combatants’ bodies. The thesis shows that sorcery is not merely a tool consciously deployed by paramilitaries to legitimate their authority but is constitutive of their de facto power as armed organisations. Ultimately, cruzados expose the “inhumane” essence of these unstable organisations that multiply by turning human bodies into weapons of war.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Supernatural Bulletproof Men: An Ethnography of Sorcery and Paramilitary Power in Colombian Eastern Plains
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10159173
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