My argument here is that the creation of
symbols and the operationalization of different communicative citizenship
dimensions on the part of civil society groups can help victims to identify and
address the cause of cultural trauma in armed conflict and post armed conflict
contexts. Thus this identification will be the catalyst thanks to which new
symbols and communicative citizenship actions will develop in the public
sphere. This process would prove crucial in helping victims to overcome
traumatic events through communicative agency and reshaping their collective
identities during the process. According to Alexander (2004; 2011) members of
collectives define their solidarity relationships in ways that, in principle,
allow them to share in the suffering of others. Nevertheless, social groups
often refuse to recognize the existences of others’ trauma. As a result,
developing symbols and communicative citizenship actions in the public arena
can pave the way to the recognition of others’ suffering in public and empower
civil society groups to demand and claim rights from a moral perspective.
this study will address the concept of “subaltern counter publics”, developed
principally by Nancy Fraser
(1990; 1997; 2008), to analyse the importance and relevance of “non-official
narratives” in the construction of memory, recognition and solidarity in the
midst of armed conflicts. The concept of subaltern counter-publics can be
understood as “parallel discursive arenas where members of subordinated social
groups invent and circulate counter-discourses, which in turn permit them to
formulate oppositional interpretations of their identities, interests, and
needs” (Fraser, 1997 : 81). She argues that subjugation perpetuates and
reproduces systems of domination, exclusion and discrimination. As a result,
the creation of a subaltern counter-public narrative offers subordinated social
groups a means of support and collective resistance. In Fraser’s (1997) words: “In
stratified societies subaltern counter publics have a dual character. On the
one hand, they function as spaces of withdrawal and regroupment. On the other
hand, they also function as bases and training grounds for agitational
activities directed towards wider publics. It is precisely in the dialectic
between these two functions that their emancipatory potential resides” (Fraser, 1997 :
case of victims’ organizations in the midst of Eastern Antioquia’s armed
Colombia has a population of 48 million, a landmass of 1.139.000 km², with five million internally displaced people,
480 000 refugees, two left-wing guerrilla groups/armies, and more than six
new right-wing paramilitary groups/armies called BACRIMS. Also, Colombia has
the most unequal distribution of wealth across the continent, with 30 % of its population living in poverty, and it is
experiencing one of the longest armed conflicts in the world, lasting almost 50
years (Fisas, 2009; UNDP, 2010). The United Nations Development Programme
identifies five structural factors underlying the chronic armed conflict in the
country: drug trafficking, limited and ineffective regional and local
government, persistent inequality and exclusion, the incapacity of the state to
establish democratic institutions and the apparent indifference of political
and economic elites (UNDP, 2003; UNDP, 2010). According to scholars, the
principal cause of the Colombian conflict is the asymmetric war between the
Colombian army and the other irregular military groups (guerrillas,
paramilitaries, drug dealers) for control over territory and the incapacity of
the state to develop democratic mechanisms in the country (Meertens,
2001 ; Gonzalez et al., 2003 ; Pecaut, 2004 ; Wills,
2006). From 2002 to 2010 this was exacerbated by the Government’s redefinition
[which informed policy] of the armed conflict as a “terrorist threat” (Republic
of Colombia – Ministry of National Defence, 2010).
Colombia started to undergo deep socio-political change. After a failed peace
process between the guerrilla group FARC-EP and the government of conservative
president Andrés Pastrana (1998–2002), a new president, Alvaro Uribe Vélez, was elected with the support of
paramilitary groups and extreme right parties (Romero, 2007; Lopez, 2010). This
right-wing president introduced a new policy called Programme of Democratic
Security that was based on the militarization of the civilian population and
military combat against the guerrillas. This programme was supported by the
government of the United States through the Colombia Plan (Fisas, 2009). After
four years of Uribe’s government, the president, using his political influence,
changed the constitution to get a second term in 2004. As a result of his eight
years in office (2002–2010) he established a strong relationship between
paramilitary groups and official political parties, where the reconfiguration
of the state in favour of illegal groups was the principal consequence. During
these years, 77 % of Colombian MPs were paramilitary group
supporters, which resulted in huge damage to democracy in the country (HRW,
2010; Lopez, 2010; Torres and Barrera, 2010). Furthermore, the splitting of
public opinion into two groups – the supporters of Uribe’s government Vs. the
critics of Uribe’s policies – shaped the stereotypical and misleading image of
both sides: groups who upheld the extreme right policies were associated with
paramilitary groups, while groups who supported centre and left policies were
associated with guerrilla groups (UNDP, 2010; Gonzalez, 2010).
consequence of the implementation of the Programme of Democratic Security
during these years was the government’s persecution of journalists, trade union
workers, teachers, human rights activists, United Nations employers, lawyers,
Colombian MPs, Supreme Court judges and NGO activists. This was particularly
true principal cities such as Bogotá, Medellin and Cali and regions with the
highest levels of violence as Caquetá, Putumayo, Montes de María and Antioquia
(HRW, 2010; Vasquez, 2010; UNDP, 2010; Romero and Arias, 2010). In 2010 Juan
Manuel Santos, former Minister of Defence under Uribe’s
administration, was elected as new Colombian president for a period of four
years (2010–2014) in order to continue the development of these right-wing
policies. However, President Santos took distance with this ideology and opened
up peace talks with the FARC-EP in 2012. However, his government still
maintained heavy military operations across the country and benefited from a
continuous technical co-operation with the United States on defence matters.
result, the principal victims of the Colombian armed conflict and state failure
are civilians, and this is especially true for women. The Colombian research
centre – Program for Peace – argues that 86 % of more than six million victims of the Colombian
war in the last twenty years were non-combatants, out of which 71 % were women and 41 % were from Eastern Antioquia (Program for Peace,
2010). Furthermore, Antioquia is the county with the highest number of victims
of the Colombian armed conflict (1.2 million) and Eastern Antioquia is the territory with the highest
percentage of massacres in the last twenty years in Colombia (CHM, 2013). In
other words, between 1993 and 2013, four in ten Colombian civilian victims were
women, most likely victims of a massacre and coming from Eastern Antioquia.
Regional Program for Development and Peace of Eastern Antioquia (PRODEPAZ) had established
three reasons why the armed conflict is high in the region and why women are
principal victims. First, 45 % of Colombian energy resources are concentrated in this region. It is
a geographically strategic area within the armed conflict and women have an
active role in local companies. Second, in the logic of the Colombian armed
conflict, women are war booty and a specific target for warriors. While a
strong patriarchal society exists in this region, targeting women is an
especially powerful way to debilitate the local community and damage its social
and family structure (PRODEPAZ, 2009). According to Jaramillo (2003), Villa
(2007), Carrillo (2009) and García de la Torre & Aramburo (2011), it is
possible to establish four main characteristics of the humanitarian crisis in
Eastern Antioquia. First, it is the rise of an uprooting generation with
immediate effects in the social structure of the region. Indeed, the negative
process of forced displacement has deeply undermined the social and cultural ties
of families and communities with this particular territory. The second
characteristic is the establishment of a culture of fear and distrust between
the communities of the urban and rural areas which results from the asymmetric
armed conflict. Often erroneously, illegal groups have been related to some
local communities – i.e. guerrilla groups with residents of rural areas and paramilitary
groups with residents of urban areas – creating an environment of dangerous stereotypes
and rumours inside the population. As a consequence, the justification of some
military operations was often based on those wrong generalizations, targeting
specific people as local leaders, politicians, peasants or human rights
third characteristic is the targeting of civilians as a method of war. This
strategy is utilized by both illegal and legal armed groups, and became the
main objective of their military operations. The killing of innocent bystanders
is a way to prove their power, superiority and ownership over specific Eastern
Antioquia’s territories to their rivals. By doing so, a group can also
undermine the social and cultural base of support for other armed groups
(García de la Torre and Aramburo, 2011). The final main characteristic is the
configuration of a regime of terror in the region, where one particular group
uses cruelty to obtain the dehumanization of the war adversary (Jaramillo,
2003; García de la Torre and Aramburo, 2011). In this context, it is important
to understand the construction of a process of dehumanization of adversaries in
order to analyse the reasons behind the use of some war methods – i.e. massacres, landmines,
and car bombs – by militant groups in Eastern Antioquia. Combatants have also been
configuring their own identities to send powerful messages to civilians and
other armed groups: the paramilitary groups present themselves as savages
whereas the guerrillas refer to themselves as sanguinary.
context, García (2004), Bedoya (2006) and Estrada (2010) argue that the armed
conflict situation in Eastern Antioquia is a good reference to understand in
holistic terms the contemporary dynamic of the armed conflict in Colombia.
Following these ideas, it is possible to establish that this particular case
reveals the main strategies that illegal groups have been developing in
Colombia since 1993. Indeed, some war tactics that were first implemented in
Eastern Antioquia were replicated in other Colombian regions. For example,
Eastern Antioquia was the first place where guerrilla groups used landmines to
prevent territorial control of the Colombian army. The region also witnessed
the first methodical implementation of massacres against civilians by some of
paramilitary groups in order to spread fear and terror in the country.
the principal aspect to consider the case of Eastern Antioquia is the permanent
suffering of civilians in the midst of the armed conflict (Estrada, 2010). The
citizens of Eastern Antioquia had experienced all the possible consequences of
war (stigmatization, forced displacements, massacres, persecutions,
marginalization, extrajudicial executions, tortures, etc.), and they are
victims of all forms of violations and human rights abuses. In summary, three
main aspects can characterize Eastern Antioquia as a representative example of
the dynamic of war in Colombia. First, the ongoing fighting between different
illegal and legal armed groups for control over the territory and its
resources. Second, the co-optation of local institutions as town councils or
local governments by illegal forces to affect local democracy and control the
economic resources. Finally, the establishment of illegal economies around drug
trafficking, kidnapping and extortion that strongly affect local and regional
symbols and implementing communicative citizenship actions: the cases of the
Association of Organized Women of Eastern Antioquia (AMOR) and The Provincial
Association of Victims to Citizens (APROVIACI)
In this context, in Rionegro – the principal town of
Eastern Antioquia – the AMOR and APROVIACI groups were created in 1994 and 2007
respectively. This region has twenty-three municipalities and these two
organizations represent women in all of them, especially focusing on the
victims of the armed conflict. In 2015 these groups represented the voice of
125 000 women, with their work categorized in four dimensions: political,
economic, sociocultural and symbolic, but with a strong gender emphasis within
each category. According to Villa (2007), AMOR and APROVIACI reconfigure the
traditional conception of women’s identity and citizenship with the intention
to find a balance between strong citizenship (political and economic
participation) and active identity (sociocultural and symbolic changes) in a
patriarchal public sphere. Therefore, AMOR and APROVIACI established small
projects, workshops and programmes in order to develop citizenship, political
identity and human rights in all twenty-three municipalities. Through those
actions they aim to valorize and nurture the political voices and civic
activism of women in the region.
important to note that during the last twenty years, AMOR has been deploying
three socio-communicative strategies that aim for recognition, visibility and
inclusion of women in the local and regional public sphere. The first strategy – called From the House to
the Square (De la casa a la plaza) – is an effort to involve women in public discussions
about the war, victim reparation and reconciliation. The strategy also involves
discussions about the future of local peace programmes. The second strategy
aims at political inclusion with the formation of constituent assemblies
(Asambleas Constituyentes). These are expected to create economic health and
develop educational programmes for women in extreme poverty. Finally, the
psychosocial strategy aims to encourage women to symbolically express and
externalize the personal consequences of war and to transform the victim
condition into the active citizen condition. AMOR works with women to explore
ways to democratize the pain stemming from the armed conflict. The aim is to
create new narratives and rediscover hidden memories of the conflict in ways
that can reconfigure the social imaginaries of women in Colombia. It is
proposed that the actions of these groups demonstrate how to claim justice,
truth, reparation and human rights in contexts of fragile public spheres and
violence using unconventional socio-political and communicative strategies.
one of the most important aspects of AMOR and APROVIACI is the use and
appropriation of different communicative resources to claim human rights in the
public sphere and overcome the imposition of a silence tactic, a strategy used
by guerrillas and paramilitary groups in order to obtain the symbolic control
of civilians in the region. Indeed, showing pain in public for someone’s
violent death was forbidden by the armed groups in Eastern Antioquia, thus
imposing a claim of fear and terror inside this community. Romero (2012) argues
that the imposition of silence as an ally of fear has been part of the social
and cultural dimension of violence in Colombia for decades. This sometimes
resulted with more enduring consequences than those caused by physical
violence. Furthermore, these two organizations of Eastern Antioquia have been
addressing specific symbols and political communicative actions in order to
construct processes of collective memory from victims’ perspectives and claim
human rights in their struggle to obtain recognition in the public sphere. The examples
of such initiatives, or in other words – collective political communicative actions – are:
The walls of memory. Big walls of photographs are made to remember the
victims of the armed conflict in Eastern Antioquia;
The march of the light. Every week women and people from different towns
march across public roads with candles in their hands, claiming the truth,
justice and recovering of the good name of some victims that had been wrongly
accused of being part of some army group;
The never again exhibitions. Photography exhibitions are held about the people
that have disappeared during the armed conflict and whose families and
communities wish to commemorate them;
Trails for life. Groups of victims try to recover the meaning,
significance and uses of public spaces where massacres against civilians
happened. Annual walks are organized in places where their relatives were
killed or where the bodies of missing persons are presumed to be buried;
Memorial parks. Green spaces are created in order to construct
another memory about this armed conflict from the victims’ point of view.
It is important to say at this point that
some of these political communicative actions developed by AMOR and APROVIACI
since 1995 are inspired by transnational political actions and symbols. Groups
such as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (Argentina) and May our Daughters
Return Home, Civil Association (Mexico) have been deploying them since the
beginning of the ’70s in Argentina, and the beginning of the 21st century in
Mexico. Communicative citizenship actions such as The walls of memory and The
march of the light can have an equivalent in the May our Daughters Return Home’s
Vigils, where a group of women demonstrate wearing black clothes, standing
silent, carrying placards and handing leaflets. AMOR’s and APROVIACI’s
communicative citizenship actions such as Memorial parks and The march of the
light can have corresponding expressions in the March of Resistance and the
Public Memorials that the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo has been implementing
since 1977. This Argentinian association is claiming to know the truth about
what happened to the children that disappeared or were kidnapped during the
Argentinian dictatorship (1976–1983). Women are trying to find their missing sons
and daughters. This victims’ group is still holding public demonstrations every
Thursday of the year at the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos
Aires, in front of the
Picture 1: “The March of
Light” - La Unión town (Eastern Antioquia)
In this context, it is possible to categorize
the relationship between AMOR’s and APROVIACI’s communicative citizenship
actions and the development of symbols and political engagements by the Mexican
and Argentinian victims’ movements. We can distinguish two types of
transnational political actions. First, the use of symbols and transnational
political practices as direct actions to obtain recognition in the public
sphere. The aims of these actions are to empower, transform and reconfigure the
position of particular civil society groups in specific socio-historical fields
(in this case victims’ groups). This would encourage a more active
participation of citizens in the construction of their socio-communicative and
symbolic regimes. Initiatives such as The walls of memory, May our Daughters
Return Home’s Vigils, or The march of light are examples of this first type of
transnational political action. In other words, these actions can reconfigure a
« victim condition » (Villa, 2007 : 34) into a
« citizenship condition » (Program for Peace, 2010 : 56) using
non-conventional socio-communicative resources and symbols to express dignity,
resistance and to provide another narrative about the war.
The second type of transnational
political action is to construct identities from a counter public perspective.
There are actions to build cohesive collective identities from a transnational
perspective in order to exercise symbolic power in the public arenas using
strategies of visibility or exclusion according to some pre-defined interest.
Initiatives such as “The never again expositions”, “March of Resistance”, “The
memorial parks and Trails for life” are examples of this second categorization.
Thus these transnational political actions can provide powerful identity
narratives to victims’ groups around the idea of democratization of the « private
pain in the public sphere » (Tamayo, 2012 : 112). Through this
approach, such groups can claim human rights in local and regional public
spheres. It is important to state that these two transnationals political
action categories are very dynamic and it is common to find intersections
between them. Furthermore, it is clear that an operationalization of this type
of communicative citizenship agency involves instruments, symbols, actions and
processes that help to reconfigure socio-communicative resources of groups of
victims in the demand for political, social, cultural, economic and
communicative rights in local contexts.
Design for This Study
This study takes a multi–strategy qualitative research approach (Luker,
2008; Bryman, 2008; Hancock and Mueller, 2010) and uses action research
techniques to reconstruct the socio-historical evolution of civil society
organizations in the regional and local public spheres of Eastern Antioquia
from 1995 to 2012 from a communicative citizenship theoretical perspective. A
participative action research approach – PAR – (McNiff, 2001) is adopted, based
upon “approaches to enquiry which is participative, grounded in experience, and
action-orientated” (Reason and Bradbury, 2001 : 24). For ten years, I have
worked in partnership with these groups of survivors of the Colombian armed
conflict to understand and document their struggles for recognition, visibility
and inclusion. One of the aims of this project is to explore – together with the studied groups – the communicative resources they
can access to obtain symbolic, cultural and political power to act effectively
within fragile public spheres. A key objective is to understand what kind of
citizen spaces these socio-communicative strategies can open up within the
context of armed conflict. Another objective is also to reveal how these
practices have been affecting the structure and shape of the regional and local
public spheres in the last seventeen years. Therefore, the principal purpose of
this initiative is to describe, understand and analyse the different collective
socio-communicative actions that have been developed since 1995 by key civil
society organizations from Eastern Antioquia (e.g. AMOR and APROVIACI). Those
groups have been claiming human rights in the midst of the Colombian armed
conflict from a transnational perspective.
Camilo Tamayo (2013)
The Walls of Memory - Cocorná town (Eastern Antioquia)
In order to develop this research, I used a set of qualitative methods.
I first relied on semi-structured interviews, a method where “the researcher
has a list of questions on fairly specific topics to be covered, often referred
to as an interview guide, but the interviewee has a great deal of leeway in how
to reply” (Bryman, 2008 : 212). Another privileged method was oral
histories. Oral history can be used a qualitative tool that allows to collect
information about individuals, groups, important events or everyday life issues
in order to preserve the knowledge and understanding of people from an eyewitness’s
point of view (Gordon and Jones, 2002; O’Neill, 2009). Finally, I also relied
on focus groups, a qualitative data collection method which usually involves
recruiting a small group of people. These people tend to share particular
characteristics in order to encourage an informal group discussion – or discussions – focused around a particular topic
or set of issues (Bryman, 2008; Silverman, 2011). The main outcome that stems
from using this set of qualitative methods is the constitution of an in-depth
documentation of the socio-communicative and symbolic practices of AMOR and
APROVIACI from 1995 to 2015. This documentation provides key insights on the
reconstruction of motivations, reasons and understandings behind these
Furthermore, as a part of this project, I carried out semi-structured interviews with
fifteen participants belonging to AMOR and APROVIACI for every Eastern
Antioquia subregions (Altiplano, Bosques, Paramo and Embalses). In other words,
from twenty-three towns in total. I have divided these groups of participants
into three categories. First, people that have been working with AMOR and
APROVIACI since 1995: the pioneer group. Second, participants that have
been working with these organizations since 2004: the second generation
group. Finally, people that have been working with these organizations
since 2009: the new generation group. The methodological decision behind
this categorization was to represent in the sample social actors with diverse
histories within these organizations, thus capturing the diverse and complex
relationships between individual biography and social movement trajectory. I
have carried out oral histories and focus
groups with people at strategic levels inside these organizations in every
Eastern Antioquia subregion. This was implemented in order to reconstruct motivations,
reasons and understandings behind various socio-communicative strategies
developed and deployed by the Eastern Antioquia organizations.
Specifically, I conducted forty-eight semi-structured interviews, two focus groups
and five oral histories with a sample of people belonging to different
civil society and victims’ organizations from every Eastern Antioquia’s
subregion (Altiplano, Bosques, Paramo and Embalses). Furthermore, I conducted
two focus groups. One with thirteen senior members of AMOR and APROVIACI in
order to learn about their perceptions, memories and opinions on the whole
social process that they have been developing since 1995. The other focus group
was held with fourteen local and regional journalists from Eastern Antioquia.
The objective was to learn about their perceptions, subjectivities, and
opinions regarding the impact, importance and relevance of the collective
communicative citizenship actions for the region. Moreover, as a part of the
participative action research approach, I participated in six regional and
local public demonstrations organized by AMOR and APROVIACI in the towns of
Marinilla, Granada, San Francisco, San Carlos, Guarne and La Unión. The reason for
my participation in these demonstrations was to understand the dynamics, logics
and interactions behind the implementations and developments of some collective
communicative citizenship actions in local public spheres and the reactions and
perceptions of the general public towards these socio-communicative actions. I
created a set of research journal notebooks for every town that I have visited
during my fieldwork (twenty-three research journals notebooks in total). This
was implemented in order to organize, keep track, enrich my research and, most
importantly, to prepare questions for the interviewees according to local
contexts. In this set of research journals notebooks I have also outlined ideas
and articulated speculations or intuitions concerning the empirical evidence
that I found in the field.
and expressive dimensions of collective action: memory, recognition and
I would like to argue in this third part that if we can better
understand the communicative and expressive dimensions of collective actions of
victims’ group of the global south from a transnational perspective, it is
possible to analyse how civil society creates social cohesion, developing a
sense of trust and a spirit of collaboration to promote peace, co-operation and
reconciliation in contemporary fragile social contexts. My proposition is that
the construction of symbols articulating the communicative dimensions of
political, social and cultural rights, can help civil society groups and social
movements to restore a sense of citizenship and collective belonging. It would
also generate processes of construction of social memory, recognition and
solidarity from a counter public perspective. In the case of the victims’
groups of Eastern Antioquia, the construction of social, historical and
cultural memory from a victims’ perspective and the implementation of symbols
of other victims’ groups of the global south is a tool to claim truth and
reparation in the midst of the armed conflict.
Picture 3: The March of Resistance
- Madres Plaza de Mayo (Argentina)
Ali Burafi/AFP/Getty Images
The plural discourses on memory that are developed by AMOR and APROVIACI
in the public spheres of Eastern Antioquia do adapt symbols of other similar
initiatives and tend to favour transnational political actions. Most
importantly, they play a crucial part in structuring the collective memory of
this Colombian region. This contributes, in turn, to the development of a more
active role of individuals in the configuration of their socio-communicative
and symbolic regimes. As a result, the social process of construction of memory
in this Colombian region became a struggle over power and the exercise of this
power to shape collective representations, symbols and meanings of the past
with important connections to the creation of subjectivities, narratives and values
in the present.
It is clear that in the case of
Eastern Antioquia questions of power, ideology and authority do not evaporate
through just adapting transnational symbols or giving voice or visibility to
the victims, the poor, or the powerless in society in order to construct plural
political memories at different levels or dimensions. My argument is that the
construction of memory – as
a social process in this Colombian region – is a struggle over power. The
exercise of this power allows shaping collective representations, symbols and
meanings of the past with important connections to the creation of
subjectivities, narratives and values in the present. The challenge in this
armed conflict context is to understand how victims can access or exercise different
levels of symbolic power in order to shape new meanings of the past that can
affect memory narratives of the present. In other words, the question of how to
change power relations between social actors, historical institutions and
political concepts from a political memory perspective could be the key to
understand the relationship between symbolic power and memory regimes in
Picture 4: Trails for Life - San Francisco town
: ASOVIDA (2011) - Camilo Tamayo Gómez (2012)
Furthermore, the case of the social movement of victims of Eastern
Antioquia can be seen as a contemporary example of the struggles for
recognition. In these cases, the set of symbols and collective communicative
citizenship actions is helping the social movements to configure a dynamic
socio-political identity as a strategy to fight against injustice,
discrimination and misrecognition. The idea of struggles for recognition
characterizes various forms of the politics of identity and difference. Every
form of political action which is not exclusively economic or redistributive in
character, and which involves issues of identity and difference in however
indirect manner, is considered to be a struggle for recognition (Thompson,
2006). As Axel Honneth (2004) argues, there is a relationship between the
experience of hurt and a sense of injustice. Therefore, we need to take into
account that emotions and symbols are central in establishing dynamic
socio-political identities in order to obtain political recognition in the
public sphere. In other words, it can be said that the set of collective
communicative citizenship actions and symbols that have been developed by
organizations such as AMOR or APROVIACI in Eastern Antioquia can play a key
role in determining the significance of victims’ emotions in the public sphere.
Through this, it can help them achieve political representation and recognition
in their political communities. In this context, symbols and emotions constitute
an important source of knowledge about the social conditions of the social
movements of Eastern Antioquia. This evidences the importance of building a
democratic public sphere where emotions can be effectively expressed.
The main conclusion of this paper is that these two Colombian cases – AMOR and APROVIACI – are successful examples of
transfer, adaptation and implementation of different types of political actions
and symbols that originate from other parts of the global south. The rationale
behind this process of appropriation is to improve social and political
activism in particular contexts. It is clear that the embodiment of
communicative citizenship actions and symbols for part of armed conflict
victims’ groups in the public sphere is an example of a contemporary form of
agency and communication. This highlights the importance of emotions, symbols
and affection as a catalyst to generate collective actions on behalf of counter
public groups in armed conflict and post armed conflict societies. As result,
one of the main purposes of the communicative citizenship field is to
understand different socio-communicative actions associated with the
construction of social memory and the contemporary struggle for recognition and
solidarity for different actors in the public sphere. To sum up, the described
case study shows the crucial role and importance for victims of armed conflicts
to claim human rights from non-conventional communicative perspectives. It also
demonstrates the necessity to compete with other social actors for power,
communicative resources and the reconfiguration of symbolic regimes in the
public sphere of fragile societies.
Furthermore, in this paper I
addressed the experience of two social movements of victims of Eastern Antioquia
that have been developing different types of symbols and communicative
citizenship actions to claim human rights in the midst of the Colombian armed
conflict from a transnational perspective. I did particularly focus on the
cases of The Association of Organized Women of Eastern Antioquia and The
Provincial Association of Victims to Citizens. I explored how they have
implemented, transferred and adapted different symbols, communicative
citizenship actions and forms of political engagement using as a reference
other victims’ groups of the global south such as Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo
(Argentina) and May our Daughters Return Home (Mexico). I introduced the
concept of communicative citizenship. A field in which emotions and affection
act as a catalyst to generate collective actions for counter public groups in
armed conflict societies. This process ultimately leads to the transformation
of the victim status into an active citizenship condition. I also argued that
the construction of symbols articulating communicative dimensions of political,
social and cultural rights, can help civil society groups and social movements
in the rebuilding of a sense of citizenship and collective belonging.
Furthermore, these symbols do generate processes of construction of social
memory, recognition and solidarity from a counter public perspective.
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