The Para-State, An Ethnography of Columbia’s Death Squads
Colombia, South America, is a nation transformed by decades of political violence since it became an independent nation in the 19th Century. Between 2005 and 2008, Aldo Civico, RU-N assistant professor, sociology and anthropology, facilitated ceasefire talks between the government of Colombia and the guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN). For his book, Civico conducted five years of unprecedented interviews with members of paramilitary death squads and drug lords, and both victims and supporters of the paramilitary groups, in order to develop a cultural interpretation of the country’s history of violence and state control. The resulting The Para-State “demonstrates how the paramilitaries have in essence become a war machine deployed by the Colombian state to control and maintain its territory and political legitimacy,” according to the publisher.
Already Civico’s book has been described as "poignant, powerful, and haunting” by Victoria Sanford, author of Buried Secrets: Truth and Human Rights in Guatemala. She says that Civico and The Para-State offer offer “a frontline account of the paramilitary story."
The Para-State, published by the University of California Press, was released in November 2015.