Resistance and Resilience: Grassroots Peace Activism in Colombia Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
Last Modified
  • February 26, 2019
  • Nivia, Manuela
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Curriculum in Global Studies
  • For over fifty years, the Colombian nation has endured the longest-running internal conflict in the Western Hemisphere, which has resulted in an insurmountable loss of life with almost a quarter of a million killed and more than 5.7 million forcibly displaced (Human Rights Watch, 2014). The vast dimensions and intricacies of the Colombian war have helped to further intensify the human rights abuses perpetrated against civilians, which are fed by drug production and trafficking, illicit trading, arms proliferation, and contending political ideologies (Bouvier, 2009). After over four decades of internal conflict, human rights atrocities, and violence, the Colombian government has sought to develop comprehensive laws and policies in order to address the protection of at-risk populations; however, the rights of Colombia’s civil society population and its minority members are far from being adequately defended. Although many marginalized Colombians, largely as victims of their circumstances, joined the fighting forces of rebel alliances, many others chose to establish alternative peace movements free of state cooperation. Because the Colombian state has failed to adequately protect women, rural communities, Afro-Colombian individuals, and indigenous populations, among others, these groups have been forced to design and develop autonomous ways to safeguard their communities, particularly through models of self-protection based on practices of disarmament, autonomous self-governance, neutrality in conflict, and the denunciation of human rights abuses by armed forces. This research analyzes peace building in Colombia in contrast to the culture of violence typically associated with Colombia’s history. Through oral history interviews and specific case studies of civil society peace activists, I discuss the Colombian population’s struggle for peace in the midst of war and how the concept of peace is constructed and interpreted in different sites and scales. Through the implementation of a wide range of alternative techniques of non-violent resistance—grassroots cultural identity assertions, promotion of human rights, protective accompaniment, peace culture pedagogy, and defense of territory, among others—I analyze communities’ complex search for peace. Under these practices, I argue that victims of Colombia’s conflict and members of social movements have found empowerment, support, and the promotion of personal identity as members of minority communities. Primarily, however, my analysis focuses on how Colombia’s broader culture of peace is developed by these social leaders.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Funding: Tom and Elizabeth Long Excellence Fund for Honors
  • Valdivia, Gabriela
  • Bachelor of Arts
Academic concentration
  • Global Studies
Honors level
  • Honors
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2017
  • English

This work has no parents.