Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The key to peace is ours: Women's peacebuilding in twenty-first century Colombia
by Paarlberg-Kvam, Katherine S., Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 2016, 460; 10246927
Abstract (Summary)

My dissertation investigates the role of women activists in the construction of peace in twenty-first century Colombia, combining a social movement studies framework with feminist, antimilitarist political economy. It is a a multi-method, feminist ethnography of three networks of women’s peace organizations founded in Colombia in the mid-1990s: Ruta Pacífica de Mujeres, the Movimiento Social de Mujeres Contra la Guerra y Por la Paz, and the Red de Mujeres del Caribe Colombiano. In it I show that by directing material and symbolic claims at the key structural foundations of armed conflict, women’s peace activism is fomenting a unfying, counterhegemonic social movement voice in the country. The dissertation is divided into two parts. The first traces the history of the women’s peace movement, and finds that it arose from a feminist movement born into armed conflict and have never had a safe space to operate. Since the 1990s the Colombian women’s movements have been joining to form national-level networks and gaining transnational legitimacy and visibility. Nonetheless, activists continue to face persistent challenges from within and without, beyond the persistence of war: notably, the concentration of movement resources among urban elites and the exclusion of feminists of color who live in outlying regions. Despite this, my dissertation argues that women peace activists are subverting many of the presumptions inherent to Colombia’s conflict and its longevity. In the second section, I identify four key personae on the stage of war and its discourse: confusion, victimhood, the body, and peace. I argue that each has played an important role in perpetuating and strengthening the patriarchal, militarized capital accumulation at the heart of the conflict, and that the activists under study are appropriating and reinterpreting these personae in such a way as to destabilize the foundations of war in the country. Using data gathered with several qualitative methodologies, including ethnographic observation, semistructured interviews, and archival research, I conclude that their organizing represents a potentially counterhegemonic, unifying social movement force that has the potential to play a transformative role in Colombia’s new reality.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gauss, Susan M.
Commitee: Leiva, Fernando I., Sutton, Barbara, Tate, Winifred L.
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Spanish-Latin American and Caribbean Studies
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 78/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, Latin American Studies, Peace Studies
Keywords: Activism, Colombia, Militarism, Peace, Political economy, Women
Publication Number: 10246927
ISBN: 978-1-369-45508-3
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