Diana Catalina Vallejo Pedraza

SociologyUniversity of Virginia

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2017 IDRF Program

SociologyUniversity of Virginia

Pricing Suffering: Compensation for Human Rights Violations in Colombia and Peru

Although transitional justice (TJ) has been used to mobilize substantial financial resources with the aim of compensating victims of civil conflict, little is known about how countries come to drastically different reparation sums. In Colombia, the budget for compensation is $28 billion and was implemented during active conflict, while Peru adopted compensation after conflict and allocated only $7.4 million. This project investigates the following questions: 1) how do states arrive at monetary values for suffering caused by civil conflict? 2) How, if at all, does the compensation of suffering that occurs during civil conflict, as in the Colombian case, compare with compensation that occurs after civil conflict, as in the Peruvian case? This research proposes a comparative analysis of how the Colombian and Peruvian governments assigned monetary value to suffering and explores the conditions which lead to differing compensatory paths for victims of human rights violations related with civil conflict. Furthermore, the project will examine how TJ is designed and implemented in different countries after widespread violence. Informed by inter-disciplinary theories of reparation and cultural-economic sociology, I argue that compensation schemas are instances in which states articulate the effects of past traumatic events. The mobilization and distribution of monetary resources requires ongoing work to define who is a deserving victim, who is responsible for suffering and what role money plays as compensation. Hence, compensation is a valuable space to understand how states deal with civil conflict and offer an explanation of suffering. Combining archival research of newspapers and official documents with semi-structured interviews with experts, state officers and victims' advocates, this project investigates the monetary compensation of suffering, focusing on the valuation process and the construction of economic commensurability.