Dealing with Violence – Resolving Conflicts

Since the period of colonial conquest, Latin American societies have perpetually dealt with the violence that accompanies social crises. Crises characterized by violence appear in different forms; such as authoritarian social systems, civil wars, ethnic violence, femicide, expulsion, organized crime (drug cartels), and the phenomenon of youth gangs (maras). These violent crises have repeatedly compelled Latin American societies to come up with their own strategies for managing conflicts and ending processes of violence.

The research group “Dealing with Violence – Resolving Conflict” will focus on three principal lines of investigation:

a) Creative Strategies of Conflict Resolution

Violent conflict in Latin America has spurred a number of effective, creative responses, such as the innovative, alternative conflict resolution strategies that have developed from efforts to settle civil wars and internal armed conflicts in Central and South America. Other successful means of social reconciliation have been achieved through the establishment of truth commissions, which have since been used as a model for conflict resolution in other regions of the world.

b) The Culture of Memory

A culture of remembrance evolved from the conflictive history of state crimes in the Southern Cone, which has served as a model and effective means for communities dealing with violent crises both in and outside of Latin America. Film and literature have been instrumental in contributing to the collective memory and assisting in the processes of remembering and forgetting one’s own history. In addition, literary, cinematic, and other narratives have repeatedly excelled at discussing the social origins and consequences of different violent processes. These narratives are all the more essential in places where communities cannot find a common language to discuss particular forms of violence in view of the destruction it causes, as is the case in Mexico in the aftermath of narco-violencia.

 c) Transregional and Transnational Conflict Management Strategies

Utilizing a transnational and interdisciplinary perspective, this research focus investigates crisis management strategies that arise from the dynamics of conflict and violence. Researchers will explore how different actors take advantage of opportunities to create social spaces and discursive platforms, which set a foundation for exploring the causes of conflict and developing appropriate regulatory mechanisms. The point of departure in this line of investigation is the question of how the innovative potential Latin American societies have developed for solving social, political, and cultural crises has been used and adapted, and how new theoretical and empirical research could contribute to existing knowledge.