About Me

I am a sociologist, ethnographer, photographer, and documentary filmmaker, focused on understanding how political, economic, and environmental transformation connect through people’s lives. My research follows the implementation of Colombia’s landmark peace agreement in the isolated village of Briceño, home to the pilot for a coca substitution program and Colombia’s largest hydroelectric dam. I describe local experiences of a wholesale regional transformation to provide a fresh perspective on longstanding debates related to peace, politics, environmental change, and social deviance: Why do peace processes succeed or fail? What kinds of rural development and statebuilding can bring both social and environmental justice? How can violence and drug economies be overcome? How are peace and state power built in everyday life and local ecologies?

As doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, Guggenheim Emerging Scholar, and Peace Scholar Fellow of the United States Institute of Peace, I am currently writing my dissertation, An Uncomfortable Peace. My work has appeared in Social Problems, Qualitative Sociology, Contexts, Revista Maguaré, El Espectador, the North American Congress on Latin America, Jacobin, and Ethnographic Marginalia, among others.

An Ethnography of the Peace Laboratory

Over three years of ethnographic participant observation in the village of Briceño, I have explored what peace, state formation, and capitalist development mean for villagers’ lives and the local environment. Specifically, I focus on how state power is experienced, contested, and achieved through villagers’ everyday encounters with it: the broken promises of the coca substitution program; their struggles to develop legal economies in the face of national and global policy regimes that increasingly disadvantage smallholding farmers; collective action against a hydroelectric dam that has caused microclimate change, environmental degradation, and the elimination of traditional economies; the building, maintenance, and use of local roads; and the relationships locals develop during electoral campaigns to access sorely needed public resources.

Though academics, journalists, and policy makers usually focus on the institutions and officials who plan and implement peace agreements, development programs, and megaprojects, my contention is that we learn something essential from focusing on the lives and experiences of local communities. This is a moral stance-we should evaluate these processes based on their impact on the often marginalized populations who are most affected by them-but it is also theoretical. State power, environmental change, and processes of capitalist accumulation are achieved (or not) in the messiness of daily life, based on people’s experiences, how they make sense of them, and what they do about it.

For more information, please contact me at akdiamond@utexas.edu or see my CV: ADiamond_CV_August_2022.