When making peace is more difficult than making war: The reproduction of everyday peace in post-agreement Medellín, Colombia
Zoest, E.J. van
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In early December 2016, the Colombian Congress approved a revised peace deal between the government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), officially bringing an end to fifty two years of conflict. While the peace agreement received international praise, it quickly became clear that perhaps the biggest challenge of all was still ahead. This thesis aims to understand how social practices of everyday peace are reproduced in a society where the population unexpectedly voted against the original peace agreement in a public referendum that took place on October 2, 2016. Through fieldwork conducted in Medellín, this thesis illustrates the undeniable gap between everyday reality and what peace could (and should) be like. By using the framework of structuration theory, it is argued that the war structure has not yet been broken. Rather, the discourse on peace and its institutionalization have proven to be inadequate and are contested by a discourse on war that is not only politically functional but also socially meaningful. As a result, a large majority of the people are not (yet) actively reproducing social practices of everyday peace. Scholars have pointed out that peace is most vulnerable in the short term, and the presidential elections of 2018 could seriously threaten the thorough implementation of the peace agreement. However, while ‘peace’ in itself has not yet been achieved, the country is one step closer to finally ending the violence that has characterized the country for so long. The war structure that exists within Colombia may not yet be broken, but cracks are beginning to show.