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The Face of Peace: Pedagogy and Politics among Government Officials in Colombia's Peace Process with the FARC-EP

Burnyeat, Gwen; (2020) The Face of Peace: Pedagogy and Politics among Government Officials in Colombia's Peace Process with the FARC-EP. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis studies officials in the government of Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos (2012-2018), a liberal politician whose central policy was a peace process with the FARC-EP guerrilla (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army), which sought to end fifty years of war. Based on 13 months of ethnographic fieldwork inside the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace, the government department responsible for peace negotiations and for explaining the peace process to society, called ‘peace pedagogy’, plus interviews with government officials, international advisors, activists and FARC ex-combatants, it asks how the Santos government communicated the peace process to Colombian society, and how the culture of government officials shapes their work. Building on anthropology of the state, it calls for studying governments ethnographically, as dynamic ecosystems within the wider state, and draws on peace pedagogy officials’ perspectives about their struggles ‘giving face’ (dar la cara), in representing the government to sceptical audiences, to conceptualise how governments ‘face’ society. It also advances the anthropology of liberalism, by showing how liberal world-views are reproduced through ‘cultural liberalism’, the intertwinement of cultural values with political ideology. After a polarising referendum which narrowly rejected the peace accord signed with the FARC, government officials blamed themselves for being ‘too rational’ and ‘not emotional enough’, in contrast to opponents of the accord whom they perceived as right-wing populists. I pinpoint their belief in an imagined binary between rationality and emotions and explore how it shaped their work, showing that while the Santos government spent great efforts negotiating with the FARC, they failed to dedicate the same efforts to communicating with Colombian society, ultimately undermining the peace process. By analysing how this culturally liberal binary shaped the Santos government’s ‘face of peace’, this thesis offers new light from Colombia onto the crisis of liberalism in the global North.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The Face of Peace: Pedagogy and Politics among Government Officials in Colombia's Peace Process with the FARC-EP
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request. - Some third party copyright material has been removed from this e-thesis.
Keywords: Colombia, state, conflict, transition, peace process, government, civil war, Juan Manuel Santos, FARC-EP, politics, ethnography
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10103456
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