Semblance in Terrain: On the Legal Topographies of Postwar, in Peru’s Upper Huallaga Valley


ACLS Fellowship Program




“Semblance in Terrain” examines transformations of land, territory, and law in a coca-growing region of Peru following the military defeat of the Maoist Shining Path. The project tracks significant changes in rural routes, spatial prohibitions, and land ownership since the mid-1990s through ethnographic attention to the personal histories and material practices of transportation operators (transportistas). Because of their close relationships to local landscapes, the experiences of transportistas convey how prior times of violence still resonate today. Rural terrains that were formerly under the sway of Shining Path and then overlaid with an archipelago of counterinsurgency forts have now shifted once again, gradually being remade into new legal topographies. The project extends post-conflict literatures, contributes to theories of territory and place, and enriches the historical record of Peru’s counterinsurgency war. The book will be supplemented by an online archive of fieldwork photos and videos documenting rural transit in the war’s aftermath.