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Teo Ballve University Portrait 2015

Teo Ballvé

Peace & Conflict Studies Program
Department of Geography
Peace & Conflict Studies , 224 Alumni Hall
p 315-228-7491


Ph.D. Geography, University of California, Berkeley, 2015
M.A. International Affairs, The New School, 2009
B.A. Anthropology, Colorado College, 2001

Research Interests

My research is about the political ecology of violent conflict and development in Latin America with special interest in the role of natural resources and illicit networks.

My book,
The Frontier Effect: Violent State Formation in Northwest Colombia, to be published in 2019 by Cornell University Press, examines how outlaw combatant groups funded by the drug trade engage in unexpected forms of state-building in a violent frontier zone. The book raises new questions about the commonplace notion that state-building and development provide lasting antidotes to lawlessness and violence in war-torn regions. Put simply, it shows why state-building does not necessarily result in peace-building. I have also begun research on a new project in Colombia about the ways the natural environment is being used as both a weapon of war and a tool for peace.

Before returning to academia, I spent eight years working as a journalist, covering Latin American affairs and U.S. policy toward the region.

Scholarly Publications

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

Narco-Frontiers. Journal of Agrarian Change, forthcoming 2018.

Grassroots Masquerades: Development, Paramilitaries, and Land Laundering in ColombiaGeoforum, December 2013, 50: 62-75.

Everyday State Formation: Territory, Decentralization, and the Narco Land-Grab in ColombiaEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space, August 2012 30(4): 603-622.

Non-Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

A Call for Scholarly Propaganda: Or what can we Learn from Thomas Friedman? Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, April 29, 2014.

Gleaning the Current Conjuncture: Notes from the 3rd Antipode Institute for the Geographies of JusticeAntipode, September 2013 45(4): 1-6.

Territories of Life and Death on a Colombian FrontierAntipode, January 2013 45(1): 238-241.

Edited Volumes

Dispatches from Latin America: On the Frontlines Against Neoliberalism. Co-edited with Vijay Prashad. South End Press, 2006.

Peer Reviewed Book Chapters

"Frontiers: Remembering the Forgotten Lands." In Other Geographies: The Influences of Michael Watts. Wiley, 2017.

Homies Unidos. In Youth Activism: An International Encyclopedia. Lonnie R. Sherrod, ed. Greenwood Press, 2006.


Hugo Blanco, Let’s Save Humanity from ExtinctionCapitalism, Nature, Socialism 24(3): 151-159. 2013

Courses Taught

Is the Planet Doomed?
Criminal Underworlds: Drugs, Guns, Bodies
Environmental Security
War in Lived Experience
The Invention of 'Latin America'

Selected Fellowships & Grants

U.S. Fulbright Scholar, Colombia, 2018-2019
Picker Fellowship, Colgate University 2018
The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, Dissertation Fellowship, 2014
Social Science Research Council (SSRC), International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF), 2013
Social Science Research Council (SSRC), Drugs, Security, and Democracy Fellowship (DSD), 2012
University of California Regents’ Fellowship, 2009

Selected Journalism

The Failure of U.S. Policy in Bolivia Miami Herald, October 17, 2014.
Colombia’s Chance for Peace The New York Times, May 24, 2014.
Medellín: Who’s Afraid of Hip-Hop? OpenDemocracy.net, March 4, 2013.
La telaraña de los ‘paras’ en Urabá VerdadAbierta, June 14, 2011.
The Dark Side of Plan Colombia The Nation, June 15, 2009.