Bringing Memories in from the Margins: Inclusive Transitional Justice and Creative Processes for Reconciliation in Colombia

  • Brown, Matthew D (Principal Investigator)
  • Paulson, Julia (Co-Principal Investigator)
  • Pinto Ocampo, Maria T (Co-Investigator)

Project Details


Lasting reconciliation depends upon the inclusion of the voices and memories of victims and marginalised groups within the transition to peace as spelled out in Colombia’s framework for transitional justice (TJ) and in wider processes of social change in the aftermath of conflict. Listening to victims and making memory work for reconciliation is a priority for Colombia’s emerging Truth Commission (TC), but international truth commission experience from contexts such as South Africa and Peru, shows that making this priority a reality can be difficult and that victims’ narratives risk being excluded, co-opted or diluted. This timely project will support inclusive reconciliation, adopting a participatory methodology to work with victims and marginalised groups across Colombia to identify best practice, and build capacity and space for them to fully participate in Colombia’s TC and transition to peace. The lessons from the project and Colombia’s transitional justice process will be shared widely to contribute to international best practice around reconciliation and localising transitional justice processes.

The project will enable the creation of six distinctive pieces of memory work that attest to the conflict experiences and hopes for the future of marginalised communities in eleven municipalities. These will be developed according to community needs in partnership with leading memory organisations (Ruta Pacífica de Mujeres, Red Nacional de Lugares de Memoria, Biblioteca Nacional de Colombia, Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica) who use a range of methodologies to produce meaningful ways to communicate the realities, experiences and enduring legacies of conflict, including theatre, sculpture, oral history, community mapping, and installations. The memory work will be accompanied by capacity building, co-production and exchange activities between communities and partners. These activities will ensure that marginalised communities develop the skills to share their memories: 1) formally, with the Colombian TC so that they are acknowledged on the national stage, and 2) more widely with everyday Colombians on whom reconciliation processes depend, including through engagement with teachers and schools and via the production of a digital resource to be hosted by the National Library.

We bring together an interdisciplinary team of researchers and practitioners who share a commitment to understanding and enabling the possibilities for a more inclusive process of reconciliation in Colombia. The team of researchers from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNC) and the University of Bristol (UoB) works across the disciplines of history, education, area studies, politics, media studies and feminism; and expertise in co-production and participatory methodologies, the use of digital technology to share and enhance research findings, as well of leading many research projects in Colombia and Latin America focused on memory, reconciliation and education. The partnerships at the core of the project are based on existing and well-established relationships with leading individuals and organisations in Colombia working to promote memory and reconciliation at local, regional and national levels.

The project works in 3 strands. The first, memories from the margins, supports partners and marginalised communities to learn from one another, producing 6 creative pieces of memory work that will support processes of community and individual reconciliation for an estimated 10,000 individuals and build narrative capacities in these communities. The second strand, reconciliation, works to insert the memory of these marginalised communities into the Colombian transition, identifying obstacles, building capacity to lobby and participate in the TC, connecting the TC with partners and marginalised communities, and co-producing pedagogical resources to be shared with national network of teachers for memory and peace. The final strand, lessons from Colombia’s transitional justice consolidates the work in Colombia, producing lasting digital resources, and shares findings, methodologies and lessons across Colombia, the UK and internationally.

Layman's description

Colombia has endured the world’s longest running armed conflict and is now entering a period of transition and peacebuilding. The conflict has produced enduring divisions in Colombian society, meaning that the voices of marginalised communities who have been victims of the conflict are often not heard or acknowledged. Therefore, an inclusive reconciliation is essential for Colombia’s transition to peace. This research will explore these issues.
Alternative titleMemories from the Margins
Effective start/end date14/08/1813/08/20

Structured keywords

  • SoE Centre for Comparative and International Research in Education


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