New article by Thomas Grisaffi published in Development & Change journal

Read the full article here.


ABSTRACT: Bolivia is a centre for drug production and trafficking and yet it experiences far less drug-related violence than other countries in Latin America that form part of cocaine’s commodity chain. Drawing upon more than three years of ethnographic fieldwork conducted between 2005 and 2019, this article presents evidence from the Chapare, a coca-growing and drug processing region in central Bolivia, to consider why this is the case. Building from the literature on embedded economies and the subsistence ethic of peasant communities, the article demonstrates that 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 limit possibilities for the violence that is often associated with drug production and trafficking. In addition, coca grower agricultural unions act as a parallel form of governance, providing a framework for the peaceful resolution of disputes and working actively to exclude the state and criminal actors.