Current Institutional Affiliation
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Smithsonian Institution

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2009
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Sociology, University of Chicago
“The Time of the Victims”: Institutional Practices and Understandings of Violence in the National Commission of Reparation and Reconciliation in Colombia

My dissertation examines the process by which the victims of the armed conflict in Colombia are defined by the state as subjects entitled to reparation, truth, justice and memory. Specifically, I will study the practices of categorization of the victims in the National Commission of Reparation and Reconciliation (NCRR) as taking place in the intersection of understandings of violence and institutional procedures. The NCRR constitutes an exceptional case in the context of similar institutions created in post-conflict scenarios to guarantee the rights to truth and reparation to victims of human rights violations, given the fact that Colombia is still in the middle of an armed conflict. Over twelve months of field research conducting participant observation, interviews and documentary analysis, my project will focus on two areas of the NCRR: the offices devoted to the daily assistance to the victims; and the Historical Memory Group, a research team comprised by scholars working on reports that collect the memories and testimonies of the victims in different parts of the country. The practices conducted in these areas vis-a-vis the victims will be conceptualized as part of a process of stabilizing the shifting boundaries of violence in Colombia and, in that sense, as constitutive of a distinctive modality of state intervention in social life. The two central questions for this project are: How do different types of expert knowledge and forms of understanding violence enter the practice of state institutions? How does the complex coexistence of ongoing conflict and violence with a model of 'post-conflict accountability' (reparation, truth, justice and memory for the victims) shape a particular type of state?