Coca's Gone: Of Might and Right in the Huallaga Post-Boom

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In a valley in the eastern foothills of the central Peruvian Andes, a wealth of cocaine once flowed. From the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, this valley experienced abrupt rises in fortune, reckless corruption, and the brutality of those who sought to impress their own brand of order. When this era of cocaine came to a close, the legacy of its violence continued to mold people's perceptions of time through local storytelling practices. The heady, destructive energies of the past would also weigh heavily on the region's inhabitants as they struggled to navigate the conflicting legal regimes of the Peruvian state and the Maoist Shining Path.

Coca's Gone examines the tense, depressed social terrain of Peru's Upper Huallaga Valley in the wake of a twenty-year cocaine boom. This compelling book conveys stories of the lived reality of jolted social worlds and weaves a fascinating meditation on the complex interrelationships between violence, law, and time. Ultimately, it explores how people drew upon violent acts both to infer new law and to mark distinctions between present and past while tracing out their own expectations for the future.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Kernaghan's book is an ambitious ethnography that attempts to provide an understanding of the complex relationship between violence and law in the Huallaga Valley of Peru in the wake of the cocaine boom of the 1980s into the 1990s . . . While the book will be of interest to those who study the effects of the cocaine trade and the drug war on rural development in Latin America, the true contribution of the book is the way it examines the politics of violence and the social ramifications thereof."—Steven L. Taylor, Bulletin of Latin American Research

"Until not so long ago, Peru's Upper Huallaga Valley was the epicenter of the global cocaine economy, a no man's land dominated by Shining Path guerrillas, drug traffickers, and government counterinsurgency forces. That Kernaghan was able to do ethnography at all in this still dangerous zone is impressive enough. That his book combines such compelling human detail, wonderfully smart and fluid writing, and avant-garde theoretical sensibilities makes it all the more remarkable." —Orin Starn, Duke University

"Kernaghan unfolds the complex history and aftermath of the decline of the cocaine boom in the Upper Huallaga Valley, relating a story of political violence, law in a lawless region, guerrilla war, and the difficulties of regional change. This is a superbly crafted, absorbing ethnography." —George Marcus, University of California, Irvine

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804759588
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 7/20/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Kernaghan is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of Fordham University at Lincoln Center.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 ya no hay coca ya 30

2 shooting in pacae 69

3 river and road 115

4 cement house 157

5 esparza 188

6 flag 213

Afterword 251

Acknowledgments 265

Notes 271

Works Cited 295

Index 301

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