'Brand Warfare and the Demobilization of FARC Rebels in Colombia'

This talk examines the intersection between the counterinsurgency state and the marketing nation in Colombia. Through an ethnography of the government’s efforts to interpolate and demobilize fighters from leftist insurgencies, Dr Fattal analyzes the joint effort of the Program for Humanitarian Attention to the Demobilized in the Colombian Ministry of Defense and the consumer marketing firm it hires to transform guerrilla subjects into entrepreneurs and consumer citizens. Colombia has become an evangelist for the power of the market to coopt and de-radicalize its enemies, and with the help of the U.S., has been exporting its experience of “brand warfare” to other war torn regions. But what is at stake in the strategic and tactical imbrication of counterinsurgency and marketing? Dr Fattal sets his ethnographic and analytic sights on practices of targeting rebel, national, and international publics, and branding as a mode of affective governance.

Alex Fattal is Assistant Professor in the Department of Film, Video and Media Studies at Penn State University. He is an anthropologist and documentary artist. His research examines the central role the media plays in Colombia’s armed conflict. He takes a particular interest in the shifting techniques of warfare in the twenty-first century and how strategies, tactics, and practices of representation have come to occupy increasingly important roles in asymmetrical conflicts.