Thinking with (il)legality: The ethics of living with bonanzas

Diana Bocarejo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


By thinking with (il)legality, I show the everyday rhythms and tropes of cultivation and mule driving through whichpeasants explain their engagements with different legal and illegal economies (marijuana, coca, and tourism) on acoastal mountainside in Colombia. I explore how peasants engage in ethical deliberations drawn from everyday prac-tices through which they try to live“the best possible life”in very volatile contexts, while also providing a trenchantcritique of the state, legality, and corruption. In this community, the talk about and pragmatic use of (il)legality andcorruption are full of judgments about the right, the good, and the decent, or at least“the better than.”I analyze howlaw and electoral politics, the state and the judiciary, are not where peasants chiefly look for their theories of right andwrong. Peasants perceive corruption as practices shaped within the law, especially when the law does not complywith the legitimate claims of fairness or justice. Illegality may be an unexpected consequence of otherwise ethicaljudgments, but corruption, in contrast, is not redeemable. The distance thatcampesinosfeel from corruption is not atriumphalist account of their ethical authority but instead marks the impossibility of their inclusion in either pettyclientelism or urban middle-class anti-corruption platforms.
Translated title of the contributionPensar con (Il)legalidad La ética de vivir con Bonanzas: La ética de vivir con bonanzas
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S48-S59
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Anthropology
Issue number18
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology


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