Roxani Christina Krystalli

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology

Award Information

2017 IDRF Program

The Fletcher School of Law and DiplomacyTufts University

"We Are Not Good Victims:" Hierarchies of Suffering and the Politics of Victimhood in Colombia

"The victims voted Yes." This was the recurrent narrative in Colombia a day after the plebiscite in which the Colombian public narrowly rejected peace accords that would have ended a 52-year civil war. The concept of a readily identifiable victim of violence is central to theories of transitional justice, which refer to the processes by which states, societies, and the international community address human rights violations after war. Yet, not all victims are created equal. Victimhood is not a mere description of having suffered harm, but also a political status and site of power and contestation during transitions from violence. My project proposes an investigation into the politics of victimhood in Colombia's transitional context: Why are some victim claims seen as more legitimate than others in the eyes of the state, human rights actors, and conflict-affected individuals themselves? How do these actors construct hierarchies of suffering and with what implications? Through ethnographic fieldwork, I will challenge the perception of victimhood as a passive status or as a monolithic, universal category, and I will trace the performances different actors produce in order to achieve legibility as victims. In doing so, this project aims to shed light not on the violence of the war itself, but on the violence of the distinctions in its aftermath.