Richard Georgi

Doctoral Student

School of Global
Visiting address
Konstepidemins väg 2
41314 Göteborg
Postal address
Box 700
40530 Göteborg

About Richard Georgi

I recently received my PhD in Peace and Development from the School of Global Studies at the University of Gothenburg.

In my PhD thesis, I study the entanglements of hopes and opportunities as well as frustrations and grievances that shape the experiences of human rights defenders in-between the formal end of the armed conflict and the deferred promise of peace. Guided by the overarching research question — how do human rights defenders perceive of and challenge the violent political realities during the peace process? — four research articles draw on the canon of deconstructionist, decolonial, and post-foundational philosophy to place the voices of Colombian activists in critical conversation with current research debates in fields such as Human Rights, Conflict Studies, and International Relations. The first research article taps into research on the politics of human rights to develop a methodological and analytical framework for studying human rights practices and their capacity to render violence legible. The second article challenges the literature on war-to-peace transition by reading the peace process as a hegemonic crisis where antagonistic conflicts entrap post-accord Colombia in a lingering political moment. The third article maps out the discursive space that human rights defenders have sustained through their peace advocacy, inferring key lessons for critical debates on the ‘co-constitution’ of peace and human rights. The fourth article criticizes the predominant notion that populist mobilization poses a peril to the liberal idea of human rights, tracing empirically how human rights defenders imagine transitional justice as a popular struggle.

In times, where the global consensus around human rights is weakening and academic critique proclaims the end-times of human rights, my project steps back to investigate how the discourse of human rights is actually employed in activist practices. I use a range of interdisciplinary research methods - combining seven months of fieldwork observations in different heavily conflict-affected regions of Colombia, qualitative and ethnographic interviews with activists, and tools of network and large-N text analysis - in order to address issues that emerge at the intersection of human rights, the peace-conflict nexus, and activism, such as: How can we study the politics of human rights activism in violent conflicts? How can we understand the surge of violence against human rights defenders after armed conflict ends? How do visions of human rights and peace relate to each other? How do activists envision justice under the conditions of its absent presence in Colombia? I argue that we should not understand human rights naively just as tools for emancipation nor (Western) domination, but engage with their contested political appropriation.

I graduated in Political Science from the Freie Universität Berlin. Before starting my PhD at SGS, I worked, amongst others, as human rights observer in Mexico and researcher for the German Institute for Human Rights. In previous research projects, I investigated the post-colonial logics underpinning security/securitization and how they play out in the political uprising of the Zapatista movement in Mexico.

I have teaching experiences in the fields of: Political Theory and Sociology, International Relations, Gender Studies, Postcolonial Studies, and Global Governance.

My overall research interests concern: human rights, political and social theories, activism and popular Mobilization, digital infrastructures, conflict-peace nexus, political violence, de- and postcolonial perspectives, feminist research methodologies

I have gathered extensive experiences with human rights work in different (inter-)national contexts, which inspired both my admiring defense and staunch criticism of human rights in my research.