Between transformation and domination: a study of peasant participation in transitional justice programmes in Colombia

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The aim of this thesis is to understand whether participation in reparations and development
    programmes allows victims of conflict to address their interests in transitional justice contexts.
    Using Colombia as a case-study, this thesis analyses power dynamics in peasant participation
    in two state-led administrative programmes: collective reparations and Territorially Focused
    Development Programmes. It does so by using the three-dimensional theory of power to
    explore who makes decisions, who sets the agenda, and how relations of domination are
    legitimised or obscured, underpinning the formation of invisible power. This thesis provides
    insights into how addressing economic and social rights in transitional societies works in
    practice and how participation can be used for top-down domination and/or bottom-up
    The data was collected using a combination of qualitative social science methods: participant
    observation, semi-structured interviews, and document analysis. Over nine months of
    fieldwork (November 2017 – July 2018),seventy-three interviews were conducted, and twentyeight events were observed. By grounding data analysis in critical realism ontology, this thesis
    proposes possible underlying mechanisms that sustain participation in transitional justice
    programmes despite the low level of implementation.
    The thesis finds that despite the rhetoric of bottom-up participation and the promise of
    transformation, victims’ participation in transitional justice programmes does not transform
    relations of domination. The participation is confined to a pre-determined form, while predefined agendas highly influence the outcomes of participatory planning. The availability of
    participatory spaces, access to them, and participatory methods did not guarantee that
    participants would exercise decision-making or agenda-setting powers. Nevertheless,
    participants resisted unequal power relations by claiming space for their interests and using
    the unfulfilled promises to advance their political struggle
    Date of Award2022
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorGordon Crawford (Supervisor), Adam Baird (Supervisor) & Kristina Dietz (Supervisor)

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