Peasant Communities, Peacebuilding and Social Change in Colombia

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Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Original languageEnglish
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Award date2017
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Abstract

My research is about the resistance and peacebuilding initiatives of the Peace Community of San Joséde Apartadó(CdPSJA), the Cimitarra River Valley Peasant Association (ACVC), and the Carare Worker and Peasant Association (ATCC) in Colombia. These communities were created by internally displaced peasants to protect civilians, to challenge the power structures that sustain the conflict, and to eventually build peace. My central research question asks how an analysis of civil local peace initiatives that resist power networks and structures
responsible for the prolongation of conflict in Colombia contributes to under
standing social and political change in war-torn societies. My research is informed by the ideas and concepts of the Italian thinker Antonio Gramsci, in an attempt to offer new perspectives on peacebuilding studies. Conceiving of peacebuilding processes as struggles for hegemony, my
research identifies three key elements based on which peasant communities’ role in building peace can be assessed. The transformation of common sense into a critical consciousness, the control over space through strategies of war of position, and the building of alternative historical blocs all help explain the dynamics of the three communities under study. The argument of this thesis is that peasant communities have managed to develop counter-
hegemonic alternatives. But whilst they succeeded in considerably reducing levels of violence amid armed conflict, it remains to be seen whether they will be able to contribute to bringing about structural change in a post-conflict setting. My research finds that their initiatives are likely to be integrated within the government’s model for the post-
conflict setting. My findings then offer new insights on social change from below and the role of the state within peacebuilding processes.