Memory and Reconciliation in Colombia

Final Report: The Contribution of Reconciliation and Victim Memory to Sustainable Peace in Colombia: A Dynamical Systems Pilot Workshop


On May 20-22, 2015 AC4’s Josh Fisher, Kyong Mazzaro, Chris Straw, Nick Redding and Joan Lopez travelled to Bogotá, Colombia to host a dynamical systems theory-informed workshop for organizations working on promoting memory and reconciliation activities as a pathway for reducing violence and promoting peace. This effort was the result of a new partnership with the Fragility, Conflict and Violence Unit of the World Bank Group, and represented a pilot of what is anticipated to be a larger project to develop tools for engaging multiple stakeholders conducting post-conflict activities in communities.

The workshop was held over three days, and focused on working with a group of local and national organizational representatives in Bogotá to better understand the impact of memory and reconciliation on efforts to reduce violence and promote peace in Colombia. Participants tackled difficult questions such as How do memory and reconciliation drive patterns of violence? and What are the barriers and enhancers related to the projects you are working to implement? While the participants did have the opportunity to engage in dialogues around these questions, the format of this workshop required engaging more directly with the complexity of these issues. Throughout the three days, participants worked together in small groups to share perspectives, explore underlying assumptions about social change, and build concept Colombia1maps, casual-loop diagrams, and actor maps, which promoted more complex perspectives on their work and new insights for engaging in constructive change.

The knowledge sharing among the participants that resulted from the conversations held during this workshop was valuable for sure, but the feedback received by the AC4 team suggests that the complexity-enhancing activities were even more valuable. Building on the success of this initial pilot initiative, AC4 is currently in conversations with the World Bank and the organizations that attended the workshop to determine the next steps in this project. We at AC4 are thrilled about this early success, and look forward to continuing this work in Colombia and in other communities.