Colombia: Transitions and Peacebuilding
Colombia's armed conflict is one of the longest running current conflicts in the world. For more than sixty years, countless confrontations between guerillas, paramilitaries, and government forces have left their mark on the terrain and people of Colombia. While the conflict still persists, the dynamics have changed with the disarmament of several guerilla and paramilitary groups and the proliferation of violence towards the civilian population. Though the armed conflict is concentrated in the rural areas, the deeply rooted dynamics and effects of violence are very present in the urban areas as well. Nevertheless, an active civil society has managed to endure the consequences of the conflict to actively build processes for peace, despite victimization of the population throughout through the country.
Considerations for how to transition from violence to peace, to “repair” communities, and “rebuild” trust have become the focus for entire communities, countries and regions. Often, people find themselves in situations where they are recovering from violence in contexts where their governments failed to protect them or where violence still persists. Likewise, the violence that characterizes prolonged conflict is situated within relations of power that often existed prior to the conflict, and involve marginalized populations with limited access to formal justice. These conditions make transitioning highly politicized and often dangerous.
In this field study we will integrate research, theory, and practices of peacebuilding and transitional justice in order to help us learn about and understand the complexities of making sense of life in the aftermath of conflict, creating new relationships within and among communities, and developing agency and capacity for safety in communities.
In order to engage these questions, we will spend 10 days on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia visiting with community members, activists, NGOs, students, youth, regional state actors, police and military representatives and hear how they are responding to the call for peace. The field component will be organized and hosted by the grassroots organization, Sembradopaz
, which has been working in the region for 10 years and is a critical and integral presence for peacebuilding initiatives in the Montes de Maria region.
This program is open to all undergraduate and graduate students including students who do not attend George Mason University.
- Lodging will consist of hotels in Cartagena and Sincelejo, and one night of home stays in one of the communities (students will stay in rugged, rural conditions in the home of a trusted family).
- All meals will be provided for the students by the host organization or the communities during specific visits. Students will have some opportunities to explore restaurants on their own in Cartagena and Sincelejo.
- In-country transportation will consist of trusted contract vans and drivers that have worked with Sembbrandopaz over the years. Students will use approved taxis in the Cartagena during their down time.
Program Cost (Summer 2017)*: $3650
Deposit Due: April 14, 2017 ($500)
Final Payment Due: May 5, 2017
- (Tuition) 3 credits
- In-country transportation
- Most meals
- International Emergency Insurance
- Round-tip airfare
- Some meals
- Visas and Immunizations
- Personal spending
Lisa E. Shaw