The process of political, social and economic reintegration of the FARC-EP within Colombian society in the context of the current peace process

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Sociology

Abstract

Colombia's civil war has lasted over 50 years. The government has recently signed a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People's Army (FARC-EP). A key outcome of the agreement is the reintegration of the FARC-EP into society - economically, socially and politically. Although other actors will also influence the outcome, the FARC-EP's relationship with society is important to understanding to what extent reintegration will succeed. The current peace process presents a unique research opportunity to study a principal actor, with strong ideological motivations in the war, at the point of transformation. This study focuses on reintegration through analysing how the FARC-EP discursively constructs its identity in negotiating its evolving relationship with the Colombian people. The proposed research innovatively contributes to the developing understanding of peace and reintegration processes and examines political, social and economic spheres of reintegration at the group level using a multi-phase, mixed methods approach.
This study draws on the interdisciplinary fields of peace studies and transitional justice, incorporating aspects of politics, sociology, and education. Transitional justice efforts often focus on addressing violations of human rights, at the expense of social and economic dimensions that are often catalysts to conflict (Arbour 2007). Similarly, existing research on reintegration commonly examines either the political or the social and economic components. The latter is often addressed within disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programmes and most often researched at a micro-level, whereas political reintegration is well conceptualised at the group and broader levels in terms of governance structures and party transformation (Söderstrom 2013). There is a pressing need for a more integrated approach that considers all dimensions in researching post-conflict contexts. This study aims to build on the understanding of conditions and factors of political reintegration identified by Allison (2006), Söderberg Kovacs and Hatz (2016) and others, through integrating analysis of social and economic elements. These include education (Smith 2013) and societal reconciliation (Clegg 2007).
In terms of methodology, a multi-phase design with both documentary and empirical strands is proposed: PHASE 1: critical discourse analysis of written/visual materials by the FARC-EP; PHASE 2: quantitative analysis of existing public opinion data; PHASE 3: focus groups with distinct groups of the Colombian population.
Discourse theory considers issues of identity, power and relationships between different groups, all of which lie at the heart of this research. By using a mixed methods approach, this study aims to bridge analysis of experiences and processes with broader trends (Thaler 2015), providing a deeper understanding of the discursive processes that shape the relationship between the FARC-EP and the Colombian public, and the potential reintegration of the group into society, whilst situating the case within broader patterns.
Source of data include the following: The peace agreement implies greater access to the FARC-EP's future annual conferences, from which considerable material will be available. Media sources and the FARC-EP's official website will also be important. For Phase 2, the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) is a freely accessible dataset of annual surveys, offering broader insight into the level of support for political participation of the FARC-EP of different subsets since 2001. For focus groups, I have personal contacts within educational institutions across Colombia, different communities within the capital Bogotá, and a displaced community on the outskirts of the capital who receive assistance through a charity, Cigarra. Access to groups within conflict-affected areas would be negotiated through NGOs or the National Centre for Historical Memory (NCHM).

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000630/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
1924982 Studentship ES/P000630/1 01/10/2017 14/01/2021 Laura Hankin
 
Description Embrace Dialogue Academia
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
 
Description Colombian Research Summit 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Colombian Research in the UK 5th Annual Summit brought together Colombian students conducting research in UK institutions, and those conducting research on Colombia. I presented my research as part of a roundtable session with colleagues working on similar themes and responded to questions posed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Documentary dialogue 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Invited speaker in public dialogue following Embrace Dialogue/Ambulante documentary screening of 7 name woman. This was an opportunity to frame my research in the context of the documentary being shown, and there was considerable discussion that followed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/colombian-documentary-forums-7-name-woman-tickets-78165548259#
 
Description Documentary screening 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Organised and ran a screening of the documentary 'Tree of Love', chairing the subsequent dialogue on issues of security and reincorporation. This was pertinent with respect to ongoing issues within Colombia and sparked questions on the subject matter but also the methodology and approach taken.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/special-screening-of-the-short-film-el-arbol-del-amor-the-tree-of-lov...
 
Description Guest lecturer 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Invited speaker on undergraduate unit 'Colombia: History and Culture since Independence', speaking on the implementation of the peace agreement in Colombia, drawing on my research and experience in the field. This lecture was attended by approximately 30 students, with a dialogue between the unit director and myself, which sparked interest and understanding of the challenges that are faced in the implementation of peace processes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Public dialogue 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 15 people attended a public dialogue in Colombia where I was the invited speaker, presenting my research and experiences in the field. The event was available online for a short time afterwards and received over 500 views. This sparked interest in the subject area, many questions and discussions, and has led to further collaborations subsequently.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Road to Peace 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The Road to Peace: Lessons from Colombia - Although not directly presenting my research, I invited two experts from London to take part in a panel discussion that I chaired as part of a two-part event that I organised in Bristol. Within the discussion, I shared my own research and made contributions during the question and answer session. This raised my profile within the university and with interested members of the public who attended.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.bristol.ac.uk/arts/events/2019/january/colombia-peace-event.html