The introduction begins with an ethnographic narrative to lay bare the temporal disjunctures that inflect postaccord peacebuilding in Colombia. In particular, I place campesino leaders' claim that the state is implementing the accords with "too much prisa (hurry)" as the central starting point for ethnographic inquiry into peacebuilding. As I trace the relational, political, theoretical, ethical, and methodological commitments that led me to conduct ethnographic research in Montes de María, I also introduce the book's primary protagonists, including the campesino movement known as the Peaceful Process of Reconciliation and Integration of the Alta Montaña (Peaceful Process), the youth wing of the movement, the Youth Peace Provokers (JOPPAZ), Sembrandopaz, a local peace organization that accompanies the movement, and the broad-based coalition in which all three participate, the Regional Space for Peacebuilding in Montes de María (Espacio Regional). The introduction outlines the ethnographic theory of slow peace developed throughout the book.
This chapter draws on the narratives, oral histories, memoirs, and collaborative scholarship to reclaim Montes de Mariìa as a space of emancipatory peacebuilding. While popular and scholarly studies frequently locate the armed conflict as the starting place for understanding the context of Montes de María, this chapter traverses the historical landscapes of transgenerational organizing to uncover how campesino understandings of the territory as a space of liberation, collective resistance, and interculturalidad (interculturalism) inform the ways in which social leaders imagine and build peace today. By tracing the emergence of campesino peacebuilding practices prior to the armed conflict, this chapter writes against the rhetorical dispossessions that reify Montes de María as a place of violence. Instead, I argue that contemporary grassroots peace movements in Montes de María embody the continuation of the collective, campesino struggle for territorial liberation that began centuries ago.
This chapter begins with the story of the death of the avocado in the Alta Montaña. Reading the armed conflict through the lens of the avocado forest, I examine the ways in which multispecies relations—and their violent severing—shape campesino theories and practices of peacebuilding as more-than-human. Multispecies temporalities destabilize the linear logic that undergirds the state's "postconflict" project, offering a more relational and place-based framework for decolonial peace praxis. Throughout the chapter, I show how the Peaceful Process and the Youth Peace Provokers movement engage in multispecies political actions to reaffirm the lives of avocados, cotton top tamarin monkeys, soils, and rivers as lives that count in the face of environmental and political violence, giving rise to campesino resurgence.
Chapter 3 directs analytic attention to the everyday interactions between grassroots social movements, state actors, and International Nongovernmental (INGO) workers to offer an account of the routine practices that structure the temporal regime of prisa. This chapter critically assesses the ways in which external interveners perform participatory peacebuilding through photos and signatures (fotos y firmas). Attendance sheets and photos, used to promote and publicize institutional presence and action, pervade international peace interventions at the expense of direct and meaningful political participation for local community members. I argue that this "theatrics of peace" is not limited to the realm of spectacular events—like peace accord signing—but contours the everyday encounters between social leaders, state bureaucrats, and the international community. Rather than locate campesinos as a passive audience, I attend to the ways in which social leaders appropriate the state's stage through a counter-theatrics of peace.
Chapter 4 provides ethnographic analysis of the 2017 ñame (yam) crisis to outline how the temporalities of prisa operate as a technology of power, structuring the uneven landscape of peacebuilding in Colombia. I make direct linkages between the state's response to the death of the avocado and the subsequent name crisis to show how "emergency time" (Ticktin 2011) and "waiting time" (Auyero 2012) co-constitute the temporal regime of prisa. Punctuated, repetitive, and rushed meetings result in the perpetual deferral of basic public services at the expense of campesino lives and livelihoods. Throughout the chapter, I unpack how social leaders contest, subvert, and refuse the "times of the state" to foreground their claims to peace.
Chapter 5 traverses the everyday relational and geographical landscapes of campesino organizing to develop an ethnographic theory of slow peace. In distinguishing their times from the state and international community, campesino social leaders expose the ways in which the temporal regime of prisa erodes the relations of care and love central to life in the campo. Slowing down does not negate the urgency that animates the defense of territory in Montes de María but is, instead, a matter of life and death for social leaders engaged in the tenacious collective struggle to build justice and peace in the face of persistent political violence. I draw on campesino narratives, ethnographic analysis, and embodied, land-based methodologies to offer a social theory of slowness—one grounded, not in clocks and calendars, but relations.
Chapter 6 directs attention to "the times of social leaders" with a focus on the Espacio Regional coalition's approach to intercultural dialogue. In sharp contrast to technocratic approaches to peace that rely on distant intermediaries and fleeting interactions, members of the Espacio Regional advocate for an understanding of peace as a political process that requires sustained proximity. While the theatrics of peace circumscribes participation to the practices of fotos y firmas (photos and signatures), I show how the indeterminate temporalities that shape the work of the Espacio Regional encourage a vision of political participation rooted in voz y voto (voice and votes). Participation understood as voice and votes centers sustained dialogue, political engagement, and democratic decision-making as vital for the work of peace. In a context of social fragmentation and repressive state violence, I argue that sustained dialogue through intercultural coalitional organizing constitutes a political act of world-building.
Chapter 7 begins at a wake held for a social leader. As those gathered for the wake engage in an evening of storytelling, they highlight the abundant life found in the campo. What is seen—and made possible—when we widen the frame and focus the lens on life and love, rather than limit our field of vision to death and suffering in contexts of war? The practices of slow peace—including accompaniment, river mapping, and living memory—constitute what Christina Sharpe (2016) calls "wake work," which I argue derives from and deepens moral dispositions attuned to life amid violence (13). I place Sharpe's conceptual frame of "the wake" in conversation with Ricardo Esquivia's notion of peacebuilders as "vigías [guardians] of hope." Rooted in the Latin word for vigil, the figure of the vigía weaves together mourning, memory, and protest as creative acts of peace that usher forth campesino futurities.
The coda outlines the implications of slow peace for international peacebuilding policy and practice. I argue that social leaders offer an understanding of peace as a continuous, social process that emerges "from and for the territory"—one that began long before public declarations of war's end and one that will continue long after. Against the elements that threaten to destroy what grassroots peacebuilders have cultivated across multiple generations in Montes de María, they continue to nurture, guard, and grow campesino futures of dignified life.