CLAS faculty advance the goals of Colombia's Truth Commission.

March 11, 2020

Academics from the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Arizona are furthering the goals of Colombia’s Truth Commission to salvage and incorporate the testimonies of exiled and refugee community to advance peace building. Two weeks ago, CLAS Director Marcela Vásquez-León, Elizabeth Oglesby and Susan Brewer-Osorio, Associate and Assistant Professors from CLAS, respectively, attended a training organized by Colombia’s Truth Commission in Philadelphia to apply best oral history practices.

 “This is a really wonderful effort to take into account the experience of exile and the experience of becoming a refugee. Which often adds another additional layer of victimization and trauma,” said Susan Brewer-Osorio, a scholar with nine years of research experience in peace building in the Andean region.

Brewer-Osorio latest research project looks at the effect and social dynamics on ex-combatants collective reincorporation. A process that started when the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed a Peace Agreement in 2016, setting a milestone for reconciliation after more than 5 decades of sustained armed conflict. Protocols to advance disarmament and reincorporate ex-combatants created numerous “camps” or sites throughout the country to contribute the reinsertion process.

“They were meant to be temporary,” Brewer-Osorio said, “But here we are, four years later, and some of those sites have evolved into more permanent communities. Why are some of these ex-combatant populations very cohesive and engaging in activities that allow them to endure as a community?”

Last Thursday, Dr. Brewer-Osorio was awarded a Fulbright-Hays Scholarship for Fall 2020, which will help explore the long-term implications of this process as a visitant scholar in the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (PUJ) in Bogotá, Colombia. Joining the faculty of PUJ’s Political Science Department, Brewer-Osorio will conduct fieldwork and teach a course on Conflict Theory to students from the Universidad Javeriana.

“I like this opportunity to expand my teaching. Have students who not only have a different language, but a different experience with conflict, and maybe cultural and theoretical perspectives,” she said “I think it’s going to be a great learning experience.”

Brewer-Osorio also hopes that this will help her expand the Study-Abroad program, Security and Peacebuilding in Colombia, which she runs every summer from June to July with the University of Arizona. Her relationship with PUJ could evolve into closer ties where U.S. and Colombian students learn together.

Dr. Brewer-Osorio will share the latest advances of her research with the talk “Ciudadelas de Paz: The Collective Reincorporation of Ex-Combatants in Colombia” at the Charlas con Café series, Friday, March 20, 1-2pm in Marshall 340. The talk is free and open to all. Applications for the Colombia Study Abroad program, summer 2020, are open until March 27. We encourage interested students to join the talk.