Handbook on Human Security, Borders and Migration
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Handbook on Human Security, Borders and Migration

Edited by Natalia Ribas-Mateos and Timothy J. Dunn

Drawing on the concept of the ‘politics of compassion’, this Handbook interrogates the political, geopolitical, social and anthropological processes which produce and govern borders and give rise to contemporary border violence.
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Chapter 20: Blood, smoke and cocaine? Reflections on the governance of the Amazonian border in contemporary Brazil

José Miguel Nieto Olivar, Flávia Melo and Marco Tobón


Following on the regional scale focus we focus then in the Amazonas, through a very interesting chapter, both conceptually (with a highly complex frame) and empirically.It is composed by different types of research conducted by Tobon, Melo and Nieto Olivar, in a region divided betweenBrazil, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela in the Northwest Amazon. Described within the vertices of a quadrangle of destruction that connects four cities of the Brazilian Amazon: Novo Progresso and Altamira in the state of Pará, and São Gabriel da Cachoeira and Tabatinga in the state of Amazonas. They research on managing human (and non-human) insecurity and violence as a form of production, transformation, and governance in one of the most important transborder regions on the planet, in the Amazonian frontier, observed as a plural object being disputed by capitalist extractive forces. The contextual debates are: the Anthropocene and Cosmopolitics , articulating three axes through which the politics of violence, control, production, and destruction gain expression. These small Brazilian cities and the people who inhabit them have had their lives traversed by highly predatory “national defense”, “regional development”, “social”, and “civilizational” policies based on the reckless exploitation of the much coveted Amazonian “natural wealth” and upon the “need” to guarantee national sovereignty. The necropolitical devices upon which this destruction is conducted also marks bodies, especially those of indigenous people, youth, and women, such as the hungry and drunken Hupd’ah bodies scattered in the camps of the “Beiradão”, or the abused and abandoned bodies of indigenous girls in the downtown of São Gabriel da Cachoeira. From the Venezuelan border to the Peruvian-Colombian border, blood and smoke mingle with cocaine and the device of violence as a form of government materializes in militarized bodies that act together, extensively and intensively, on the territories of the upper Rio Solimões combating the “violence” of international drug trafficking with the “violence” of militarized forces.

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