Theses Doctoral

La paz quemada: students’ civic subjectivities amidst transition in Colombia. A case study at a public school in Eastern Antioquia.

Romero Amaya, Maria Daniela

In 2016, the Colombian National Congress endorsed the Peace Agreement with the largest guerrilla group in the country, FARC. Prior to this political benchmark episode, the National Government, under different executive agendas, sought to overcome the Colombian armed conflict through different approaches. Formal education has been historically conceived as a central area for advancing peace and democracy. Today, under a holistic model of Transitional Justice and the slow implementation of the 2016 Peace Accords, schools hold a key role in forming young citizens for peacebuilding, respect for human rights, and democratization. In this research project, I examine how high school students take up civic subjectivity in relation to the ongoing political transition in Colombia. I also explore the interplay between civic subjectivity and historical memory, emphasizing how students’ understandings of the past inform their civic positionings and actions in the present regarding the armed conflict and the prospects for conflict transformation.

This study engages with the Foucauldian conceptualization of subjectivity as the two-fold process of “being-made” and “self-making”. Drawing on 22 weeks of ethnographic fieldwork at Colegio San Antonio public school (Eastern Antioquia), I analyze students’ encounters with the difficult past —often in the form of textured silences— and how these give shape to their construction of previous and contemporary armed violence and civic action/responsibilities on this matter. By paying attention to participants’ everyday lives and social navigation inside and outside of school, this dissertation discusses the tensions and negotiations youth face in the process of giving historical and political meanings to the armed conflict and current transition. It also sheds light on the intertwined dimensions of temporality, spatiality, and experience in how youth conceive and position themselves as civic actors. This study demonstrates how, through civic disjunctures, students partake in their becoming as citizens who challenge fixed and already-established notions on what peace is, should be, and what the school is expected to do to form peaceful citizens. This dissertation concludes with some reflections about the possible intersections between civic education and Transitional Justice’s efforts.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Teaching of Social Studies
Thesis Advisors
Schmidt, Sandra
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 13, 2021