PEACE FESTIVAL: Creative Methodologies for Unearthing Hidden War Stories

[Click here to see the Spanish version]

Principal Investigator

Professor Matthew Brown


Dr Karen Tucker


María-Teresa Pinto and Goya Wilson

Research Institution

University of Bristol

Project Summary

Societies moving to post-war contexts face multiple challenges. Many of these are echoes from the war and its historical roots. Memories of war resonate throughout the transition process; they penetrate cultural practices, the public arena, the institutional level, and the social fabric.

Colombia is at a crucial historical juncture. Peace Accords agreed between the government and the FARC were narrowly rejected in a national referendum on 2 October 2016; President Santos was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace on 7 October 2016.

Long-lasting peace will not be possible without memory-seeking initiatives that think creatively about the past and its place in imagining the future. This project will bring together the most adventurous groups who are seeking to open up ways of thinking about peace in Colombia and its neighbour Peru. The project will strengthen their efforts, rooted in civil society, building networks and sharing experiences. It should go without saying that our partners in this project risk their lives everyday as they seek to encounter alternative visions of society in countries still emerging from conflict. Our project will support them and make them better able to withstand the challenges they confront in their work and in their lives.

The project will map, systematize, and disseminate relevant methodological practices used in local initiatives aimed at unearthing alternative stories of marginalized victims of war, for example through sharing the work of the prize-winning Ruta Pacífica NGO.

We will invite representatives of seven projects from Colombia and seven projects from Peru to a Peace Festival which we will organize in Cartagena de Indias in mid-2017. In so doing we will build a space for knowledge exchange and networking between local practitioners who have been on the front line of the peace moment, for example the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, in order to understand the potential of local and critical narratives in the construction of peace and reconciliation.


The project will aim to benefit four broad groups:

1. Innovative social and cultural groups working for peace in Colombia and Peru. We will bring together unconnected practitioners from across Colombia and Peru, and to expose them to each other’s innovative creative methodologies, in order to energize their efforts and produce new and unexpected collaborations. . By providing resources and the opportunity for networking and collaborative learning, the project will strengthen this strand of the peace processes in both countries.

2. Politicians and peace negotiators in Colombia. Through its dissemination plans and media coverage the project will give a boost to the peace processes in Colombia, by drawing national and international attention to amazing projects that tend to receive little or sporadic press attention.

3. Politicians and civil society in Peru. Colombia may be on the verge of ending its fifty-year civil war, but Peru is still teetering on the brink as it moves away from its own armed conflict. This project will take advantage of the opportunities provided by circumstances in Colombia to provide a boost to beleaguered Peruvian producers, and use experiences of hope and experimentation in Colombia to inform the actions of Peruvians still dealing with the legacies of their own peace.

4. Library and archive groups in Colombia. Through our collaboration with the National Library of Colombia, the project will promote the capacity building of participatory initiatives in terms of methodological knowledge, narrative emergence and strategies for the preservation of these new memories that emphasise the need to narrate the conflict from the perspective of traditionally excluded sectors. This will strengthen the institutions that work with history and memory, through the leadership of the National Library.

Contact Information

For further information, please email Matthew Brown or contact him via social media [@mateobrown]