Imagining a new order together: social science, media and legal change in the case of peasant and indigenous movements in Colombia 1960-1991

Research Project

This project studies the process of configuration of Colombian peasant and indigena movements during the second part of the 20th century. In particular, it focusses on a collective known as ’La Rosca de Investigación y Acción Social’, who – combining the tools of social science with activism – sought to establish a joint work between academics, indigenous groups, afro-descendants and peasant-based communities in support of their political struggles. This collective struggle, which did not separate the academic from the political grounds, relied on a proposal of methodological transformation in social science called ‘Investigación Acción Participativa’ (IAP).

The members of ‘La Rosca’ were some of the many actors that supported popular struggles for rights during the second part of the 20th century; most of these struggles related mainly to land ownership. They included a critique of the existing law and succeeded – though not without failures – to shape new institutionalities, new political ways of sociability and, subsequently, a new constitution. This innovative methodological proposal was not only discussed in Colombia; it was also part of the concerns of a Latin American academic community that considered academia as a transformative and active force. One of the main elements of these critiques that were taking place in different parts of Latin America was the creation of new forms of interaction focused on collaboration with grassroots communities that went far beyond the written word: cinema, theatre, testimonial literature, radio, graphic novel, among others. These new methods opened new spaces for interaction and discussion between very diverse sectors.

The research will focus on the systematic study of the following archives in Colombia: The Audio Archives of the Fundación Colombia Nuestra (Cali), the Private Archives of Víctor Daniel Bonilla (Bogotá) and Orlando Fals Borda (Montería) both founders of La Rosca, and the Acción Cultural Popular Archives. All of these archives hold important collections of written, graphic and audio sources. This work will be complemented with remote and in-situ interviews, ethnographies, and the creation of disparate audiovisual products.

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