Many years ago, I decided to write a book about anthropology and
development. I diligently plodded away and sent the first three chapters
in draft form to a potential publisher, who responded with the rhetori-
cal putdown, ‘‘So what else is new?’’ Enraged and somewhat insulted, I
gave up on the book but revised the chapters, and each one was finally
published elsewhere. Although mollified, I still thought I had it in me to
write a book, so some fifteen years ago, before I became an academic, I
decided to try again. This second attempt was more serious: I spent one
year writing, a second year revising, and a third year sending the manu-
script to potential publishers. The reviewers for the first publisher did
not, in my view, understand what I was trying to do. The second set of
reviewers was, in my opinion, too conservative and failed to appreciate
the subtleties of my argument. But the third set was devastating and, I
had to agree, right on the mark. The principal lesson I drew from this
painful experience was that if I wanted to write a credible book about
anthropology and development, I had better go and do some serious,
long-term research in the field. This book is the result of that realization.
The research was conducted primarily during the summers from 1995
to 2002 in several rural communities in Cauca, Colombia, as well as the
city of Popayán, the provincial capital, and included a six-month stint
in the field in 2000. In the initial years, the research was supported
by grants from the Instituto Colombiano de Antropología e Historia
(icanh) and Colciencias, the Colombian scientific research agency,
first for an assessment of the Nasa of Tierradentro displaced and reset-
tled after a devastating earthquake in 1994, and then for a team project
on new social movements. For their support and the opportunity to
participate, I thank María Victoria Uribe, then director of icanh;
Claudia Steiner, then director of social anthropology at icanh; and
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