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Guerrilla Marketing

Counterinsurgency and Capitalism in Colombia

Brand warfare is real. Guerrilla Marketing details the Colombian government’s efforts to transform Marxist guerrilla fighters in the FARC into consumer citizens. Alexander L. Fattal shows how the market has become one of the principal grounds on which counterinsurgency warfare is waged and postconflict futures are imagined in Colombia. This layered case study illuminates a larger phenomenon: the convergence of marketing and militarism in the twenty-first century. Taking a global view of information warfare, Guerrilla Marketing combines archival research andextensive fieldwork not just with the Colombian Ministry of Defense and former rebel communities, but also with political exiles in Sweden and peace negotiators in Havana. Throughout, Fattal deftly intertwines insights into the modern surveillance state, peace and conflict studies, and humanitarian interventions, on one hand, with critical engagements with marketing, consumer culture, and late capitalism on the other. The result is a powerful analysis of the intersection of conflict and consumerism in a world where governance is increasingly structured by brand ideology and wars sold as humanitarian interventions.

Full of rich, unforgettable ethnographic stories, Guerrilla Marketing is a stunning and troubling analysis of the mediation of global conflict.

Author Information

Alexander L. Fattal is assistant professor in the Departments of Film-Video and Media Studies and Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University.


Guerrilla Marketing is a fascinating examination of how commercial-style branding has been deployed by both rebels and the state in Colombia's civil war. Fattal deserves high praise for his extraordinary research, carried out over many years in the edgy and borderless terrain of the war's periphery. His insights are lucid and the stories he tells are haunting. This book is a must-read for scholars of modern conflict, journalists, and diplomats.”
— Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life

Guerrilla Marketingis a poignant and theoretically innovative ethnography imbued with Fattal’s dynamic, compelling voice. This book is a significant contribution to studies of Colombia and the complexities of the human experiences of conflict, insurgency, and demobilization.”
— Winifred L. Tate, author of Drugs, Thugs, and Diplomats

“This is a scintillating study: a surprising story of how Colombia deployed the power of advertising to counter armed conflict, and turned to the magic of branding to make counterinsurgency seem like a humanitarian enterprise. Not only does Fattal give a riveting account of how the Colombian state became an unlikely pacesetter in the business of peacemaking; he illuminates the growing salience of consumer marketing to statecraft everywhere in the twenty–first century world.”
— Jean Comaroff, coeditor of The Politics of Custom

“Now that the hyped Colombian ‘peace agreement’ lies in tatters, Fattal’s meticulously detailed book is not only timely but theoretically refreshing and politically astute. Combining peasant stories of life in the guerrilla with a top-down view of media manipulation, it opens us up to novel understandings of the use of images and the power of anthropology.”
— Michael Taussig, author of Palma Africana

Audience: Professional and scholarly;