From “All Art is Propaganda” to All Propaganda is Marketing

As scholars from a range of disciplines have compellingly argued, the boundary between war and peace has grown more faint through the Global War on Terror. The concatenating series of global episodes that could happen most anywhere at nearly any time remediates the global scope of the Cold War, but in such a way that has enabled a more mutable cast of smaller non-state actors to proliferate. This scaling down toward the level of the individual has meant a shift in the methods of targeted persuasion to mobilize fighters, affect morale, and prompt defection. Increasingly the skills and knowledge from the world of consumer marketing is being brought to bear in these propaganda battles. This talk explores how branding’s ability to manage the visible and invisible dimension of the production of commodities is being applied to armed conflicts. I take up this issue through the prism of an ethnographic analysis of the Colombian government’s efforts to demobilize individual guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Army of National Liberation (ELN) between 2003 and 2016. 

Alexander L. Fattal is assistant professor in the Departments of Film-Video and Media Studies and Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University. He is author of Guerrilla Marketing: Counterinsurgency and Capitalism in Colombia (University of Chicago Press, 2018). 

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The presentation is a part of the CCW Tuesday Seminar Series hosted by the Conflict Platform

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