The entanglement of violence and legal institutions in Colombia has led some scholars to argue that the country is characterized by ‘law without a state’, or that the law has merely a ‘symbolic function’. This would explain an apparent paradox: high intensity violence has been accompanied by the preservation of legal institutions and the common belief in their social importance.
Yet, the mobilization of the legal repertoire against violent land grabbing by peasant movements shows their belief in the legitimacy of legal institutions. Instead of measuring the efficiency of these actions, this paper will analyze the interaction between local orders, national legal institutions and collective action. This study argues that legal arenas have served to address land conflict, in a context of egregious violence. With their own dynamics and rules, they have not completely disrupted the logics of violent dispossession, but have opened venues for collective action.
Grajales, J. LDPI Working Paper 17. &#8216;Speaking law to land grabbing:&#8217;land contention and legal repertoire in Colombia. The Land Deal Politics Initiative, (2013) 20 pp.