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Imagining Peace Otherwise: Five years of the Colombian peace accords experienced from the margins

November 2021 marks the fifth anniversary of the signature of the “Final Agreement to End the Conflict and Build a Sustainable and Lasting Peace” between the Colombian government and the former guerrilla group FARC-EP. Five years into arguably one of the most comprehensive and ambitious efforts to build a more just and peaceful future for Colombia, we invite reflections about the extent to which the country has embarked on a journey to transformative peace.

Dates and venue

The conference is a virtual event and will be held via Zoom, on November 25-26, 2021.
Links to Zoom will be published closer to the event.

The languages of the conference will be English and Spanish. For information in Spanish download our brochure here / Los idiomas de la conferencia serán español e inglés. Para información en español descargue nuestro folleto aquí.

Registration

Registration for attending the conference as an observer is now open. The conference is free of charge. 

Call for papers

The call for papers closed on 30 August, 2021.

Contact

Brochure in Spanish / Folleto en español

Conferencia IPO Colombia (PDF)

About the conference

The conference has two overarching aims: First, we are interested in shedding light on the practices, experiences and future visions of the people who have both lived the reality of organized violence, and fought at the forefront of achieving peace and justice. Since their critical voices often play a marginal role in policy debates concerning the implementation of the Peace Agreement, we want to foster dialogue among alternative views on peace and post-accord development, including the perspectives of social leaders, human rights defenders, community activists, women, campesinxs (peasants), ethnic groups and students, among others. Second, we want to better integrate researchers who are conducting cutting-edge work on post-accord challenges in Colombia.

The five-year anniversary represents a natural occasion to review and evaluate the progress of the implementation of the peace accords. We want to enrich this review process by shifting the emphasis from top-down implementation of policies to the perspectives and experiences of the people at the margins of power, who often put themselves at risk to voice their concerns and demands for a different future. Systematic political violence, high impunity rates, and political stigmatization have further deteriorated the already precarious situation of activists and communities that advocate for transformative peace.

Rather than thinking about people in the margins as a homogeneous group, we are interested in how this group of people challenge the ideas of peace and development from different perspectives. By paying attention to the experiences and voices of the people in the margins, we are particularly interested in the ways in which gender, race, class, age, citizenship and social hierarchies shape the experiences and visions of those at the forefront of building transformative peace in their communities and territories.

Conference structure

The conference will address two themes in two sequential days. It will take place during morning hours in Colombia (08:00 –13:00) and in the afternoon in Europe (14:00 – 19:00). Each day is reserved for one theme, beginning with a keynote and followed immediately by Q&A. The keynotes will be followed by academic panels, where participants present their research. A third keynote will close the conference at the end of the second day. The official languages of the conference are English and Spanish.

<Funded by the European Union>
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 838371.

Keynote speakers

Eduardo Pizarro Leongómez

Eduardo Pizarro Leongómez is an emeritus professor at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. He is a founding member of the Institute for Political Studies and International Relations (IEPRI) at the same university. His writings have shaped Colombia’s peace processes and the ways we understand the country’s armed conflict. He was rapporteur for the Commission on History of the Conflict and its Victims in Habana 2014-2015, and between 2005-2010 he was president of the National Commission for Reparations and Reconciliation (CNRR).

Diana Ojeda

Diana Ojeda is an associate professor at the Center for Interdisciplinary Development Studies (CIDER) at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. Her work bridges political ecology and feminist geopolitics. Based on her research experience in the Colombian Caribbean, she has made important contributions to the study of land grabbing, dispossession and the politics of conservation in the country. Her recent work explores the health dimension of plantation landscapes in Colombia. She holds a PhD in Geography from Clark University (USA).

Ramón Abril

Ramón Abril is human rights defender and lead investigator of the civil society organization Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights (CREDHOS). CREDHOS was founded in 1987 in Colombia’s “oil capital” Barrancabermeja, which has been strongly affected by paramilitary violence and the armed conflict. During the last decades, CREDHOS has worked for the human rights of individuals and communities in the Magdalena Medio area, becoming one of the most renowned social organization in the region as well as the target of various threats and attacks.

Eduardo Pizarro Leongómez.
Diana Ojeda
Ramón Abril

Theme 1: The narratives that divide and unite us

25 November, 2021

We open the critical debate about the grand narratives that sustain hegemonic visions of peace and post-conflict development in Colombia and the alternative ideas that emerge in their shadows. As historical examples of peacebuilding in Colombia illustrate, the vocabulary of these narratives is not neutral, or apolitical, but may reiterate divisive binaries that linger from colonial and militarized thinking, such as: developed/underdeveloped, civilization/wilderness, center/periphery and conservation/development, among others. The narratives and language we use to understand conflict, peace and development not only shape how we conceive the past, but also order the present and govern the future. Suggested topics for contributions are:

  • An interrogation of the vocabularies of peace and conflict: Rural Colombia is often described either as the dangerous place where armed conflict "actually happens" , or as a place of resistance to neoliberal capitalism and violence. What does the vocabulary of the peace process, centered around terms such as victims (víctimas), human rights defenders (defensores de derechos humanos), communities (comunidades), peasants (campesinos), or territories (territorios), reveal about the potentials and limits of imagining and practicing peace? What are there different languages of (violent) conflict and reconciliation? What qualifies a language as violent or peaceful? What concepts, words and ideas do we need in order to talk about a radical project of peace based on justice and egalitarian relations?
  • What historical understanding is reproduced by contemporary discourses of peace and development? Old conflicts haunt the political present, while new ones emerge. What role do the narratives the divide and unite us play in the polarized political context of postaccord Colombia?
  • Narratives of development and security are prominent in the peace accords. Rather than connecting with the stories of those affected by violence, these narratives often reproduce the language of international academic and policy communities. Which counter-narratives of peace and development can we observe on the ground? How do narratives of peace, victimhood, justice include and exclude?

Theme 2: Knowing peace

26 November, 2021

Peace is not just a field of practical intervention but also of multi-disciplinary knowledge production. The epistemic field of peace is not only informed by decades of peace and conflict studies, but also the psychology of reconciliation, the military strategies of counterinsurgency, the technologies for accessing natural resources, as well as policies to conserve the environment. This epistemic field is inherently political, because it ultimately decides upon what kind of knowledge is admissible for building peace. This theme reflects on knowledge production on the 2016 Peace Accord and the role that critical scholarship and activism can play in diversifying knowledge. Suggested topics for contributions are:

  • How is knowledge production governed in peacebuilding and/or development interventions? What tensions and conflicts between knowledge on peace and development can we observe? What space is given to alternative epistemologies and ways to think about development in the 2016 peace process? On this matter, we explicitly welcome discussions on indigenous, afro-Colombian and peasant constructions of the territory, the symbolism of coca cultivation and eradication, as well as controversies around the neoliberal script of extractivism and land grabbing.
  • In academia, we must ensure that we speak truth to power, or we risk becoming tacitly complicit. How can we make visible the biases and potential pitfalls of knowledge that we ourselves help to create about peace in Colombia? We invite critical self-reflections concerning scholars’ positionality on matters of class, gender, citizenship, etc.
  • How is international expert knowledge accommodated with the politics of peace in Colombia and the demands of local communities? Can we speak of hybrid regimes of knowledge and how is power mediated between them?

The organizer

The conference is hosted by the School of Global Studies (SGS) at the University of Gothenburg. The School of Global Studies has a strong tradition of research on peace and development, always with an eye on critical perspectives and the interdisciplinary entanglement with, among others, environmental social science, social anthropology, and human rights.

Photo: Evelina Assarsson