My paper seeks to break open the national binaries of the border region and the political binaries of civil war through examining the lives of those young men. With evidence drawn from Chilean citizenship petitions and criminal cases, I argue that the politics of those men were informed by the social topography of a mountainous border region. Many of them were mountain-crossing laborers. They helped transport goods across mountain environments, and developed a sense of social hierarchies and political loyalties fit for that labor and those environments. Intimately familiar with the state on either side of the border through customs, passports, and criminal law, they produced an understanding of it and its national discourse that was functionalist, often antagonistic, and always up for negotiation. Moreover, mountain-crossing labor provided them with an affective connection to mountain environments and the social relationships that accompanied them. In this sense, they manipulated wartime and national categories to avoid conscription and criminal prosecution, and to continue their mountain-crossing lives. Ultimately, my paper challenges nationally restricted narratives of civil war and emphasizes the importance of particular kinds of labor and geography in the construction of transnational political formations.
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