"What an exciting and devastating book! Philosophically as well as aesthetically it blends the material world of road–building into the Amazon with the myth of stately prowess, especially the state′s heroic tropes of "opening up" the "frontier". Showing how such a road creates the state, rather than the other way around, the author also demolishes the myth of geographical determinism and does so in a calm, elegant and lucid prose that upturns our basic concepts. By building his own road, Simón Uribe brings nature and the state into a dazzling new constellation."
Michael Taussig, Class of 1933 Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University, New York, USA
"A wonderful historical treat in the emerging field of infrastructure studies, Frontier Road is a rich and fascinating account of the relation between state and frontier in the Putumayo region of Colombia. The protagonist is the road a site of hope, frustration, violence and fear, and a space where histories of the future are tracked from the mid–nineteenth century to the present day."
Penny Harvey, Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Manchester, UK
"Simón Uribe takes us on an exhilarating journey to reveal how nearly two centuries of frustrated efforts to build a road through the Putumayo exposes the fantasies of state–building and uncertainty of development. With this beautifully written ethnography, Uribe introduces us to a cast of actors, from enigmatic missionaries, wizened truck drivers, and "never present" guerrilla for whom the road is a material infrastructure and a symbol of state power. Frontier Road is a remarkable achievement that itself exists at the intellectual frontier of anthropology, geography and history."
Gareth Jones, Professor of Urban Geography, London School of Economics, UK
Frontier Road is a powerful narrative that uses the history of a road in southern Colombia to demonstrate how state–building practices have depended on the production and maintenance of frontier spaces, often through violent means. The road, known locally as "the trampoline of death", has long been at the centre of struggles and claims on the past, present and future of the Amazon frontier. In making sense of this singular infrastructure, the author draws on a wide range of sources, blending geography, ethnography, history and politics. In particular, he examines the symbolic and physical violence that has sustained the state in time and through space, as well as the ways in which ordinary people have confronted this violence in everyday life. With important insights into state society and society nature relations, this is a compelling study that highlights the pervasive role of infrastructure in the discursive and material production of territorial frontiers.
Series Editors Preface viii
Part I 19
1 Reyes dream 21
2 A Titans work 62
3 Fray Fidel de Montclar s deed 92
Part II 141
4 The trampoline of death 143
5 On the illegibility effects of state practices 182
6 The politics of the displaced 211
Conclusion: The condition of frontier 240