My research examines the central role that the media plays in Colombia's armed conflict. I am interested in the shifting techniques of warfare in the twenty-first century and the ways strategies, tactics, and practices of representation have come to occupy increasingly important roles in military and political conflicts.


Questions of temporality, surveillance, the role of the market in counterinsurgency, the relationship between war and non-war, and the aesthetics and genre instability of documentary photography motivate my research. These are concerns that are at once ethnographic, theoretical, and political; registers that I interweave in my writing and creative work.


My fieldwork in Colombia dates back to 2001 and includes the completion of three major projects that you can learn more about on this site: Guerrilla Marketing, Shooting Cameras for Peace, and Limbo.  

I complement my abiding interest in media politics and the Colombian conflict with an intellectual commitment to parsing the continuities and ruptures presented by social media, as well as keen attention to the changing modes of documentary practice in the digital age.

For a full list of my publications please see my page on

Photo courtesy of Gena Steffens

I am currently at work on three projects:

Transitional Visions: Creative Photojournalism, Ethnographic Surrealism, and Reckoning with Political Violence in Post-Peace Accord Colombia

 “Transitional Visions” examines how photojournalists transcend their roles as witnesses to engage in visual storytelling that reckons with the living legacies of war in Colombia. Since right-wing politicians have largely fulfilled their promise to “shred” the 2016 peace accord with the FARC, photographic collectives have flourished, stepping in to do the discursive labor of restorative justice trials and truth commissions. “Transitional Visions” ethnographically documents a representational vanguard struggling—through dangerous conditions and financial hardship—to foster the recognition necessary for reconciliation. As an activist work of scholarship, it theorizes how visual culture can disrupt cycles of political polarization.

Whitefish: A Collaborative Ethno-Fiction Film

In the moment when drug traffickers are about to be intercepted on the high seas, they often throw packages of cocaine into the ocean. Fisherman in coastal villages along trafficking routes will go out searching for this drift cocaine, known throughout Latin America as either Whitefish or White Lobster. This project collects stories of how the phenomenon of  Whitefish has transformed coastal communities, as the basis for a narrative film about the phenomenon. The feature length ethno-ficton film will feature local actors and collaborate with a coastal Colombia community in the production process.  

AjA in Action: Making Public Space for Diverse Visions Throughout the San Diego/Tijuana Border Region

This project will use participatory action research to document and analyze the work of the AjA Project as it enables refugee, immigrant, and border communities to tell their stories. By following AjA’s work from the workshop level to the moment of public exhibition, AjA in Action will examine the possibilities and challenges for diversifying the public sphere in the San Diego/ Tijuana border region.

9500 Gilman Dr. 0503, San Diego CA 92093

© 2020 Alex Fattal