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Department of Social Anthropology


Colombia has attracted international attention recently on account of its fragile peace process between the government and its Brunnegger 01largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC–EP), which resulted in a 2016 peace agreement. This agreement formally ended one of the many internal conflicts between armed factions that have rent Colombia since the 1960s.

The current project, “Living the Law: Transitional Justice in Colombia”, focuses on another peace process engaging the paramilitary coalition: The United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), who put their name to a peace agreement in 2003. In July 2005, Colombia adopted a law, known as the “Justice and Peace Law” (Ley de Justicia y Paz), establishing a legal framework, creating special criminal proceedings, to facilitate the demobilization of paramilitaries. The “Justice and Peace Law” is complex, and its implementation has been marked by legal, political and social controversies. The project reflects on and analyses the legal, political and social contexts, conditions and dynamics of the legal framework of Columbia's transitional justice program. It aims to offer a nuanced understanding of ‘(transitional) justice’ as this is perceived by a range of different actors (politicians, law-makers, policy-makers, grassroots activists, UN staff, demobilized soldiers and victims). In making available an understanding of the multiple ways in which (transitional) justice is experienced, understood, and contested by various actors in the context of “Justice and Peace Law”, the project explores the complexity and specificity of ‘transitional justice’ in Colombia, thereby contributing towards the study of anthropology of (transitional) justice.  


The project has received funding from the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under REA grant agreement n° 629510. ​During the lifecycle of the project, the project was based at the law schools at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Harvard University, American Bar Foundation in Chicago, and the social anthropology departments at the University of Chicago and University of Cambridge.


Dr Sandra  Brunnegger
Fellow, Tutor, Director of Studies and College Lecturer, St Edmund's College