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Why is the drug trade not violent? Cocaine production and the embedded economy in the Chapare, Bolivia

Grisaffi, T. (2022) Why is the drug trade not violent? Cocaine production and the embedded economy in the Chapare, Bolivia. Development and Change, 53 (3). pp. 576-599. ISSN 1467-7660

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/dech.12696


Bolivia is a drug production and trafficking centre and yet it exhibits far less drug related violence than other countries across Latin America that form part of cocaine’s commodity chain. Drawing upon long-term ethnographic fieldwork carried out since 2005, this article presents evidence from the Chapare, a coca-growing and drug processing zone in central Bolivia, to consider why this is the case. Building from the literature on embedded economies and the ‘subsistence ethic’ of peasant communities, it shows how the drug trade is part of a local moral order that prioritizes kinship, reciprocal relations, and community well-being, facilitated by the cultural significance of the coca leaf. This has served to restrict the possibilities for violence. In addition, coca grower agricultural unions act as a parallel form of governance, providing a framework for the peaceful resolution of disputes, and work actively to exclude the state and criminal actors.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:100509
Uncontrolled Keywords:Coca, Cocaine, Chapare, Bolivia, Peasant, Indigenous, Embedded Economy, Reciprocity


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