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Mule Trains

The trails and histories of mule trains have drawn the cycles of bonanzas in the landscape and in people’s daily rhythms. Such rythms include mules and peoples traversing the vicissitudes of bonanzas- working in gold and stone looting, trading the precious wood of the forests, or dealing with marihuana, then coca leaf, then coca paste, and currently tourists. Life ethics is evoked and constituted from within the complex entanglements of peoples, works, mules, the state and, paramilitary; while also drawing the contours of legality, illegality and corruption.

Corruption is seen as preceding illegality, as something even external to it. Illegality may be an unexpected rebound or bad take on otherwise ethical judgments, involving people’s everyday experiences with risk, ambition, and forms of care or affect. Corruption, instead, is not redeemable. In a place where people and mules have learned how to manage all the vicissitudes of bonanzas, corruption stands for all the incorrect and negative characteristics: lack of loyalty, stubbornness, haughtiness, disloyalty, rudeness, recklessness. Moreover, as with mules, in spite of being a sterile hybrid it is unceasingly socially reproduced, over and over.


Participant: Diana BOCAREJO
Dept. of Anthropology | Universidad del Rosario
Presentation: "Mule Trains and Mediations: Legality, Illegality and Corruption"