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Working Towards Conflict Transformation in Colombia

Alison Ribeiro de Menezes (SMLC) and María Alejandra Estrada-Fuentes (Theatre and Performance Studies) have been awarded Warwick International Partnership Funds for the project, 'Towards a Moral Grammar of Transitional Justice: Secondary Care Practices to Support Conflict Transformation in Colombia'. Our Colombian partners are Lucas Ospina, from the Universidad de los Andes, and Alejandro Garzón and Otoniel Romero, from the Agencia para la Reincorporación y la Normalización (ARN). The research will also involve Professor Alan Norrie (Law) and builds on a recent series of collaborative workshops held at Warwick on the Moral Grammar of Transitional Justice.

Our Research

Transitional Justice requires change through negotiation and mutual recognition of both a divided past and a shared future. This inevitably involves emotional encounters and affective transactions. Such encounters are often between (former) combatants, victims and wider civil society – although it would be a mistake to forget that these are frequently overlapping groups, and that categories such as perpetrator and victim are not mutually exclusive. The encounters that may happen within situations of conflict transformation and TJ are many and varied, occurring on different scales and in different contexts. They may range from discussions in the formal peace negotiaton room to the chance meetings in daily life. These encounters are much more emotional and affective than legal approaches to TJ have to date acknowledged. They obviously involve questions of guilt and responsibility, as well as the complex intersections of perpetration and victimhood. Nevertheless, such emotions can impede conflict resolution where contested views of ‘truth’ and ‘history’ prevent the expression of understanding and respect. We thus propose that explorations of relational and transactive emotions – vulnerability, care, respect, generosity – through applied theatre practice, narration and creative writing can offer a route to more productive framings of agency, bringing to light and helping to confront productively the complexities of victimhood and perpetration.

Our collaboration ultimately aims to shed insight on four pressing research questions: Which subjects and subjectivities emerge through the processes of conflict transformation? What happens to political positions and political subjectivities in these encounters? What is the role of embodied practices and body-based narratives in establishing a relational dynamics within the context of TJ? How can such emotional exchanges be directed towards productive and successful conflict transformation?

Discussing the work of the ARN with Alejandro, Oto and María Alejandra.

You can read about our visit to Colombia and the first series of workshops in Cali and Bogotá here.

Read Alison's online interview with Oto and hear about his poetry!

In July 2019, María Alejandra and Alison conducted four workshops with ARN colleagues. You can read about it here.

On the 15th of May we held a round table discussion with Alejandro Garzón and Otoniel Romero Gómez of the Colombian Agencia para la Reincorporación y la Normalización (Agency for Reincorporation and Normalization).

For Alejandro Garzón's presentation, click here

For more information on the process, click here

Insights on the peace process in Colombia: The state of play

State of play poster