Dealing with the past to create a peaceful future? Transitional justice and coloniality in Colombia by María Cárdenas

Pınar Gümüş’s report on ‚Dealing with the past to create a peaceful future? Transitional justice and coloniality in Colombia‘ by María Cárdenas, June 4th.

María Cárdenas’ presentation focused on the transitional justice process in Colombia, and particularly on the inclusion of ethnic communities and their concerns in several stages of this process. Cardenas emphasized that even if the current peace agreement in Colombia presents a new and positive approach in terms of incorporating ethnic and cultural perspectives within transitional justice mechanisms, in practice, the recognition of ethnic communities and their truth claims is still limited, given the context of ongoing coloniality. Based on her fieldwork conducted via interviews with interethnic organizations/activists as well as via participant observation in several meetings of the transitional justice mechanisms, Cárdenas also argued that the aim to include ethnic perspectives is often hindered by epistemic violence, by which the contribution and existence of the ethnic communities is regulated and therefore restrained by the expertise and dominance of the transitional justice professionals in this process.

In the Q&A session, discussions mainly centered upon the possibilities for and ways of decolonial reconstruction of the past in different settings, and also how transitional justice process in itself calls for a reflection on coloniality, in other words, challenging colonial knowledge and being. One of the points that can be further examined in this project seems to be the meaning of ‘inclusion’ as it defined/conceptualized throughout the transitional justice process. More precisely, following the question of how and why the inclusion of ethnic communities with regards to building a peaceful future and rewriting a national history is needed, would definitely contribute to a nuanced understanding of this transition period. All in all, this research definitely offers critical and important insights regarding the transitional justice process in Colombia, which is far from just being a reconciliation between conflict parties but rather ‘a battle about the truth’ -as it is stated by Cárdenas -.