Forensic Architecture and Colombian Truth Commission






United Kingdom and Colombia


42:53 min



Credits: Courtesy of Forensic Architecture and the Truth Commission

Forensic Architecture—a research agency conducting visual investigations of human rights and environmental violations—together with the Colombian Truth Commission, a transitional justice institution created to shed light on the country’s decades-long war history, examine land dispossession in Colombia’s Urabá region. This area of the country, on the north-western Caribbean coast, is today the center of Colombia’s banana industry. It is also known for its history of violence. Thousands of local farmers have been displaced, leaving behind their homes and small plantations.

The project “Dispossession and the Memory of the Land” investigates and exposes the process that led to the displacement of local people and the loss of their land, as well as the violence against the land itself. It also examines how industrial banana producers profited from the dispossession of the peasants. Forensic Architecture uses archival material, aerial and satellite imagery, and the “situated testimony” technique to reconstruct three sites of paramilitary massacres of banana workers, trade unionists, and peasants in the area. The research shows that the dispossession occurred in the shadow of armed repression, massacres, and terror by Colombian military and paramilitary forces.

One such case, Coquitos, represents the slow violence of dispossession. Sometimes this practice is committed by armed forces and physical threats to community members. Other times, it is perpetrated by the slow movement of salt water seeping into the roots of banana plants after a flood from the sea, rotting them from the inside. This spectrum of violence is dispossession, and it occurs in the daily lives of the inhabitants of Coquitos. This violence is intimate, relative to the depth and width of the canal bordering their farms and determining the water flow that rises and overflows invading their dwellings and their interior lives. The condition of Coquitos projects a future of dispossession driven by the extreme precariousness in which the residents live, which is also embodied by the fragility of the land.

Forensic Architecture Team

Eyal Weizman (Main Researcher), Hannah Meszaros-Martin (Lead Researcher), Ariel Caine (Project Coordinator), Manuel Correa, Nicholas Masterton, Sergio Beltrán-García, Agata Nguyen Chuong, Alican Aktürk, Zac Ioannidis, Mateo Plummer-Fernández, Olukoye Akinkugbe, Lola Conte, Nour Abuzaid, Jumanah Bawazir, Elara Shurety, Sarah Nankivell, Elizabeth Breiner, Robert Trafford, Christina Varvia, Samaneh Moafi 

Truth Commission 

Alejandro Valencia Villa (Commissioner), Oscar Pedraza (Researcher in Charge), Folco Zaffalon (Project Coordinator), Fernanda Barbosa, Gustavo Niño Rojas, Miguel Osorio 

Extended Team 

Remote Sensing and Cartographic Analysis: Paulo José Murillo Sandoval, Ana María Valencia Palacios, Juan F Blanco, Carlos Montoya 

Sound Design: Sergio Fernández Borrás, Julián Galay, Mark Nieto 

Voice-over narration: Laura Camila Arévalo Domínguez, Hannah Meszaros Martin 



Instituto Popular de Capacitación 

Forjando Futuros