The Politics of Legibility: Narrative Dynamics of Transitional Justice in Rural Colombia



Castel, Alison

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Transitioning from violence to peace is highly politicized and often dangerous. Increasingly, transitional justice mechanisms provide a framework for considering such issues. However, the dominant narratives emerging from these frameworks often privilege macro-level political processes that fail to acknowledge the complexities of how nations rebuild and people live together post mass violence. This research aims to understand the politics of the production of narratives of peacebuilding and justice by studying the discursive and meaning making practices around reparations processes in rural Colombia. The questions it asks include: What are the sites of intersection between the production of narratives at the community level and transnational discourses of transitional justice? What stories develop and how do those stories interact with, resist, and/or appropriate national and transnational discourses of transitional justice? What are the relations of power that impact what stories can and cannot be told? Drawing on qualitative methods such as participant observation, interviews, textual analysis, and narrative analysis, this project demonstrates that understanding the dynamics of legibility between communities and the state is central to reparations processes. These processes of legibility are often mediated by local organizations that help interpret and translate state processes in local communities. This analysis provides a framework for understanding the politics of legibility and concludes with future directions for narrative praxis.



Narrative, Colombia, Conflict, Transitional justice, Reparations, Peacebuilding