Dealing with Violence – Resolving Conflicts

Dealing with violence as part of social crises has been a constant in Latin American societies since the period of colonial conquest. Crises characterized by violence appear in different forms such as authoritarian social systems, civil wars, ethnic violence, ‘feminicidio’, expulsion, organized crime (drug cartels), and the phenomenon of youth gangs (maras). In spite (or because) of these, the societies of Latin America have again and again come up with their own strategies for managing conflicts and ending processes of violence.

The research group “Dealing with Violence – Resolving Conflict” will focus a) on the creative strategies of conflict resolution: Innovative, alternative conflict resolution strategies have developed from the efforts to settle civil wars and internal armed conflicts in Central and South America, for example. Furthermore, social reconciliation through the establishment of truth commissions proved to be a successful concept that has been used as a model in other regions of the world.

A second focus of the group is b) to investigate the culture of memory. Such a culture of remembrance evolved from the conflictive history of state crimes in Cono Sur. Again, communities with similar experiences in and outside of Latin America adopted this culture of remembrance. In this case, film and literature have taken on the task of contributing to the collective memory, as well as reflecting on the processes of remembering and forgetting themselves. In addition, literary, cinematic, and other narratives have repeatedly excelled at discussing different violent processes in their social origins and consequences. They are all the more important in places where communities cannot find a common language to discuss particular forms of violence in view of the destruction it causes, as in the case of Mexico in the aftermath of narco-violencia.

Furthermore, the group will investigate c) the transregional and transnational entanglements in conflict management strategies. From a transnational and interdisciplinary perspective this research focus investigates crisis management strategies that arise from the dynamics of conflict and violence. Among other things, researchers will explore how different actors are able to use opportunities to create social spaces and discursive platforms, which allow for exploring the causes of conflict and for developing appropriate regulatory mechanisms. The point of departure is  the question of how the innovative potential Latin American societies developed for solving social, political, and cultural crises, has been used and adapted, and how new theoretical and empirical research could contribute to the existing knowledge.