Type: Public event
Host: Ford School

On the politics of historical injuries: Colombia's struggles for peace and memory

Date & time

Sep 17, 2014, 4:00-5:30 pm EDT


Weill Hall, Annenberg Auditorium
735 S. State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Free and open to the public. Reception to follow.

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About the topic:

Alejandro Castillejo-Cuéllar’s lecture will explore how socio-political injuries in the national context and history of Colombia's armed conflict are simultaneously located across multiple faultlines of place, time and space. He addresses the moment when testimonies to violence, as embodied by survivors, can challenge broader assumptions and mechanisms of the ‘transitional justice’ process. Such challenges emerge when the prospect of acknowledged historical injuries make visible the fact that difference and inequality are woven together into a longer temporality; oftentimes beyond the grasp of narrow theoretical contours, technical policy frames and legal mandates. From this perspective, specific communities may experience political transitions as a structural continuity of historically rooted social and economic inequalities. For Professor Castillejo-Cuéllar, it is this complex systemic tension and struggle between fracture, continuity and violence, which lay at the heart of Colombia's peace process. His lecture will critically engage the prospect of what he calls "the promise of an imagined new society.” 

From the speaker's bio:

Alejandro Castillejo-Cuéllar is currently associate professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology at the Universidad de los Andes, Colombia. He was a research fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study and Humboldt University in Berlin, Columbia University (New York), and at the Center for Study of Ethno-political Conflict, University of Pennsylvania. Between 2002 and 2004, Professor Castillejo-Cuéllar also served as visiting scholar at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation and the Direct Action Center for Peace and Memory, both in South Africa. He has also been British Academy Latin American Fellow (2007), visiting professor and guest scholar at the School of Oriental and African Studies (2007), London, professor at Zayed University, Dubai (where he also founded in 2009 the International Journal for the Study of Culture and Society), and the Council for the Development of Social Research in Africa (CODESRIA), Senegal, among various other institutions in Latin America and Europe. In 2002, he was consultant to the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission and in 2010 to the Colombian National Commission for Reparation and Reconciliation and the Historical Memory Group. As part of his collaborative engagement with victims' organizations in Colombia, he recently served as chief rapporteur in charge of writing the official proposals on behalf of the National Conference of Victims of Forced Disappearances to the peace process in Havana. His writing and ethnographic work has dealt with the personal and communal effects of political violence among displaced communities of peasants and urban dwellers in Colombia, and apartheid victims' in South Africa. One of his books, The Archives of Pain: Essays on Violence and Collective Remembering in Contemporary South Africa, was awarded the 2006 Stanley Diamond Memorial Award in the Social Sciences (New School University, New York) and the 2010 Angel Escobar Foundation Award in the Social Sciences (Colombia). During the last years he has also been conducting research on the judicial scenarios that have been part of the demobilization process of former paramilitaries. Based on these materials, Prof. Castillejo is currently finishing the book After the Traces of the Body: the Politics and Aesthetics of Forced Disappearances in Colombia, an ethnographic exploration of Colombia's transitional scenario. He has also been working on a short personal reflection on pedagogy entitled, The Nomadic Word: Violence, Globalization and the Pedagogies of the Irreparable.

More about the Josh Rosenthal Education Fund

This lecture is supported by the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy's Josh Rosenthal Education Fund. The Fund was created in memory of Josh Rosenthal, a 1979 U-M graduate who died at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The fund supports lectures, research, and student internships that encourage public discussion and greater understanding of changes in the world since 9/11.