Anthropology and Environment Society
Oral Presentation Session
The Central Cordillera of the Colombian Andes is one of the most seismically active places in the world and receives high annual rainfall. To prevent mudslides, local environmental management agencies typically install large, concrete retention walls. While these infrastructures of prevention are considered feats of modern engineering, they are sometimes installed after mudslides have occurred to prevent repetition. I argue that delaying prevention in some places and not others reveals these walls to be effects of corrupted time infrastructured in city planning practices. Because residents of low-income neighborhoods cannot afford the high price demanded by local governing authorities for land studies to evaluate the probability of future mudslides, the local government only plans for the past, corrupting the time of prevention by reversing it. In Manizales, which is considered the engineering capital of this region, mudslides killed 115 people between 2003 and 2017, particularly in low-income neighborhoods. In this city the local government notoriously declares states of emergency after catastrophes in low-income neighborhoods to propose budgets for concrete walls that are far more expensive than the projects will actually be, enabling politicians to profit from building walls and by extension the death and destruction that justified a high cost. By examining the city planning practices through which time is corrupted and political corruption ensues, this paper will unpack infrastructure temporally to discern the ‘meantime’ of delayed prevention.