Military and health innovations in clandestine warfare settings. Technical specialization and collective resourcefulness in the FARC-EP
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date31/07/2022
Moreno-Martínez, Óscar Daniel
There has been a rapid recent growth of academic interest in previously neglected processes of innovation at the margins, including contexts of illegality. These illegal margins represent remarkable breeding grounds for innovation, particularly the contexts of warfare due to the antagonistic and survival dimensions surrounding it. The most arresting practices frequently emerge from there. This research examines the FARC-EP clandestine warfare settings to analyse military and health specialization processes and collective resourcefulness as case studies of how innovation works in illegal and conflictive settings, and how an irregular war was waged and endured through ‘low’ knowledges, techniques, and technologies. For the first time an academic investigation has access to an abundant number of internal primary guerrilla sources that reveal processes hitherto unknown. Following the Social Learning of Technological Innovation and the Biographies of Artefacts and Practices frameworks, I describe cycles of learning that are integral to innovation. First, the pre-specialization period (1964-1980) in which there was a dependence on distal sources to obtain weapons and to solve health issues. Second, the historical articulations between distal dependency and internal specialization of technical knowledge, as well as institutional processes that cleared the way for later innovation. Third, the historical processes that shaped the specialization in guerrilla training together with the edition of handbooks that represented channels for aligning military and health knowledge. I, finally, reconstruct types of military and healthcare collective resourcefulness the rebel group developed. Historically, I suggest that the insurgent technical specialization that occurred from the 1980s represented a cornerstone of the war since it prompted the enhancing of designs/productions and the reproduction of knowledge inside the organization. Theoretically, the thesis proposes the notion of alignment channels as mechanisms of sociotechnical arrangement that systemise dispersed knowledge to make it collectively available as a rebel technical doctrine. It suggests, also, the concept of collective resourcefulness described as the shared skill to assemble, enhance, or use military/health knowledge and artefacts blending distal and proximal sources. By including the health dimension, the thesis broadens the epistemological view on illegal knowledge and practices to include the constructive dimensions of the marginalized. This is one of the few texts that have investigated the issue of health in war and that has involved dentistry in its analysis.