Daniel Ruiz-Serna, “When Forests Run Amok: War and Its Afterlives in Indigenous and Afro-Colombian Territories” (Duke UP, 2023)

In When Forests Run Amok: War and Its Afterlives in Indigenous and Afro-Colombian Territories (Duke University Press, 2023) Daniel Ruiz-Serna follows the afterlives of war, showing how they affect the variety of human and nonhuman beings that compose the region of Bajo Atrato: the traditional land of Indigenous and Afro-Colombian peoples. Attending to Colombia’s armed conflict as an experience that resounds in the lives and deaths of people, animals, trees, rivers, and spirits, Ruiz-Serna traces a lasting damage that brought Indigenous peoples to compel the Colombian government to legally recognize their territories as victims of war. Although this recognition extends transitional justice into new terrains, Ruiz-Serna considers the collective and individual wounds that continue unsettling spirits, preventing shamans from containing evil, attracting jaguars to the taste of human flesh, troubling the flow of rivers, and impeding the ability of people to properly deal with the dead. Ruiz-Serna raises potent questions about the meanings of justice, the forms it can take, and the limits of human-rights frameworks to repair the cosmic order that war unravels when it unsettles more-than-human worlds—causing forests to run amok.

Daniel Ruiz-Serna is Lecturer of Anthropology at Dawson College.

Reighan Gillam is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Southern California. She is the author of Visualizing Black Lives: Ownership and Control in Afro-Brazilian Media (University of Illinois Press).

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