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From Guns to God: Mobilizing Evangelical Christianity in Urabá, Colombia


Theidon, Kimberly. 2015. “From Guns to God: Mobilizing Evangelical Christianity in Urabá, Colombia.” In Religious Responses to Violence: Human Rights in Latin America Past and Present, edited by Alexander Wilde, 443–76. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

Author: Kimberly Theidon


“This chapter draws on field research with former combatants from the paramilitaries Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN). Since January 2005 I have been conducting anthropological research on the individual and collective demobilization programs. To date my Colombian colleague Paola Andrea Betancourt and I have interviewed 236 male and 53 female former combatants. In addition, we have interviewed representatives of state entities and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as well as the military, the Catholic and Evangelical churches, and various sectors of the 'host communities' to which former combatants are sent or to which they return. I sought to understand the local dynamics between victims and victimizers and the experiences of those individuals and communities the UNDPKO rightly describes as lying somewhere in between" (Theidon 2015, p. 445). 
“I begin with an overview of Colombia’s current DDR program and its impact on Urabá, located in the region with the highest concentration of demobilized combatants. I then explore how evangelical pastors manage memory and the past, issues of great relevance in the lives of former combatants and those around them. This leads to a discussion of repertoires of justice and the elaboration of local theologies of redemption and reconciliation. I conclude by analyzing the role these churches play in providing a space for the development of alternative masculinities and the much-desired personal transformations that may allow these former combatants to forge una nueva vida” (p. 446).

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, DDR, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Justice, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Paramilitaries, NGOs, Post-Conflict, Religion Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2015

Explaining Recidivism of Ex-Combatants in Colombia


Kaplan, Oliver, and Enzo Nussio. 2018. “Explaining Recidivism of Ex-Combatants in Colombia.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 62 (1): 64–93.

Authors: Oliver Kaplan, Enzo Nussio


What determines the recidivism of ex-combatants from armed conflicts? In post-conflict settings around the world, there has been growing interest in reintegration programs to prevent ex-combatants from returning to illegal activities or to armed groups, yet little is known about who decides to ‘‘go bad.’’ We evaluate explanations for recidivism related to combatant experiences and common criminal motives by combining data from a representative survey of ex-combatants of various armed groups in Colombia with police records of observed behaviors that indicate which among the respondents returned to belligerent or illegal activities. Consistent with a theory of recidivism being shaped by driving and restraining factors, the results suggest that factors such as antisocial personality traits, weak family ties, lack of educational attainment, and the presence of criminal groups are most highly correlated with various kinds of recidivism and hold implications for programs and policies to successfully reintegrate ex-combatants into society.

Keywords: recidivism, reintegration, DDR, Colombia, civil war, ex-combatants

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Combatants, DDR, Education, Gender, Post-Conflict Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2018

Demobilisation of Female Ex-Combatants in Colombia


Schwitalla, Gunhild, and Luisa Maria Dietrich. 2007. “Demobilisation of Female Ex-Combatants in Colombia.” Forced Migration Review 27: 58–9.

Authors: Gunhild Schwitalla, Luisa Maria Dietrich


"Among the millions of Colombian IDPs one group is particularly invisible – women and girls associated with illegal armed groups. The current demobilisation process does not adequately address the consequences of the sexual violence they have suffered before, during and after conflict" (Schwitalla and Dietrich 2007, 58).

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, DDR, Displacement & Migration, IDPs, Gender, Women, Girls, Gender-Based Violence, Conflict, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Paramilitaries, Non-state Armed Groups, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2007

Amnesty, Patriarchy and Women: The ‘Missing Gender’ Voice in Post-Conflict Niger Delta Region of Nigeria


Umejesi, Ikechukwu. 2014. “Amnesty, Patriarchy and Women: The ‘Missing Gender’ Voice in Post-Conflict Niger Delta Region of Nigeria.” Gender & Behaviour 12 (1): 6223–37.

Author: Ikechukwu Umejesi


On 25 June 2009, the Federal Government of Nigeria declared amnesty for all armed groups fighting against the Nigerian state and oil producing companies in the Niger Delta region. The amnesty project spelt out a triple program of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) of the militant groups. In other words, the program was designed to end the conflict and reintegrate the militants into the society through an economic empowerment process. While the amnesty program was hailed as "reconciliatory", "compensatory" and a "sustainable solution" towards achieving lasting peace in the restive region, the program seems to benefit only men who constitute the bulk of the militants and their commanders. It does not take into consideration the socio-ecologic and economic losses suffered by women throughout the course of the struggle. This paper asks: where are the women? Is the amnesty program an empowerment project or an entrenchment of patriarchy in the Niger Delta region? Using both primary and secondary sources, this article examines these questions as a way of understanding government's amnesty policy and its gender dynamics.

Keywords: Niger Delta, conflict, amnesty, women, patriarchy, gender, militants

Topics: Armed Conflict, DDR, Economies, Economic Inequality, Extractive Industries, Gender, Women, Gender Analysis, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Equality/Inequality, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-state Armed Groups, Peacebuilding Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Nigeria

Year: 2014

Demobilized Women Combatants: Lessons from Colombia


Giraldo, Saridalia. 2012. “Demobilized Women Combatants: Lessons from Colombia.” Paper presented at the Thinking Gender Conference, UCLA Center for the Study of Women, Los Angeles, February 3.

Author: Saridalia Giraldo


In Colombia, a country with one of the longest civil wars in the world, women combatants return to civil society in the midst of ongoing tension. In this transition, women suffer triple difficulties: the reaction of their home communities; hostility from armed illegal groups still engaged in conflict, and disregarding from the government itself. What accounts for these obstacles? First, in a patriarchal society such as Colombia, demobilized women face the denigration of their community which views women’s participation in armed conflict as an infringement on traditional female roles. Second, in the midst of continued conflict, demobilized women are also in danger of being rerecruited, tortured, killed or displaced from their home towns by their former peers in combat who perceive them as traitors, or by active criminal groups who consider them as enemies. Third, public policy designed to demobilize and reintegrate combatants gives little attention to women´s special needs as victims of gender violence. Recognizing that women and their needs remain invisible, this paper proposes that formal and informal post-conflict measures in Colombia must be gendersensitized in order to effectively reintegrate women and men into civilian life.

Keywords: women combatants, demobilization, reintegration, DDR, peace-building, Colombia, civil war, guerrillas, FARC, sexual violence

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Combatants, Female Combatants, DDR, Gender, Gender Roles, Gender-Based Violence, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual Violence, Violence, Weapons /Arms Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2012

Unmaking Militarized Masculinity: Veterans and the Project of Military-to-Civilian Transition


Bulmer, Sarah, and Maya Eichler. 2017. “Unmaking Militarized Masculinity: Veterans and the Project of Military-to-Civilian Transition.” Critical Military Studies 3 (2): 161-81.

Authors: Sarah Bulmer, Maya Eichler


Feminist scholarship on war and militarization has typically focussed on the making of militarized masculinity. However, in this article, we shed light on the process of ‘unmaking’ militarized masculinity through the experiences of veterans transitioning from military to civilian life. We argue that in the twenty-first century, veterans’ successful reintegration into civilian society is integral to the legitimacy of armed force in Western polities and is therefore a central concern of policymakers, third-sector service providers, and the media. But militarized masculinity is not easily unmade. Veterans often struggle with their transition to civilian life and the negotiation of military and civilian gender norms. They may have an ambivalent relationship with the state and the military. Furthermore, militarized masculinity is embodied and experienced, and has a long and contradictory afterlife in veterans themselves. Attempts to unmake militarized masculinity in the figure of the veteran challenge some of the key concepts currently employed by feminist scholars of war and militarization. In practice, embodied veteran identities refuse a totalizing conception of what militarized masculinity might be, and demonstrate the limits of efforts to exceptionalize the military, as opposed to the civilian, aspects of veteran identity. In turn, the very liminality of this ‘unmaking’ troubles and undoes neat categorizations of military/civilian and their implied masculine/feminine gendering. We suggest that an excessive focus on the making of militarized masculinity has limited our capacity to engage with the dynamic, co-constitutive, and contradictory processes which shape veterans’ post-military lives.

Keywords: militarized masculinity, veterans, experience, gender, military-to-civilian transitions, militarization

Topics: Combatants, Male Combatants, DDR, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Discourses, Livelihoods, Militarized livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Peacebuilding

Year: 2017

Demobilized Women in Colombia: Embodiment, Performativity and Social Reconciliation


Anctil Avoine, Priscyll, and Rachel Tillman. 2015. “Demobilized Women in Colombia: Embodiment, Performativity and Social Reconciliation.” In Female Combatants in Conflict and Peace, edited by Seema Shekhawat, 216–31. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Authors: Priscyll Anctil Avoine, Rachel Tillman


Colombia has been divided by armed conflict for over half a century. While still confronting multiple forms of violence, since the beginning of the peace talks in 2012 public attention in Colombia has shifted to social reconciliation. In June 2014, Colombians re-elected Juan Manuel Santos as president, his campaign having made peace the centre of attention. The peace negotiations in Havana have been widely recognized as promising by the national and international community, and an agreement with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia — Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP)1 is closer than ever. Women have been considerably marginalized in this peace process, however, especially those who played an active role in the armed conflict. These women experience a double alienation: not only has their participation in the perpetration of violence been largely invisible, but this failure to recognize their presence in the conflict means that they are also being overlooked in the peace-building process. Furthermore, their non-traditional performance of their own gender will make it very difficult for them as women to carve out a place in a post-conflict society. (Abstract from Springer)


"This chapter draws on Judith Butler’s work on gender performativity to articulate a framework of analysis for understanding the possible role of demobilized women in the Colombian peace process. We analyze from the perspective of embodied gender performativity a bibliography of narrative accounts of demobilized women in various regions of Colombia gathered by the Centro National de Memoria Histórica. We also conducted semi-structured interviews of key actors within the demobilization process, specifically with people who have had direct and sustained contact with women ex-combatants. Although these sources are not necessarily statistically representative of the wide range of women involved in combat in Colombia, they nonetheless allow us to build a preliminary panorama of the relationship between gender performativity and the lives of women combatants before, during and after the conflict" (Avoine & Tillman, 2015, p. 216-17). 

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, DDR, Gender, Women, Peace Processes Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2015

Disarming, Demobilising and Reintegrating Whom? Accounting for Diversity Among Ex-Combatants in Colombian DDR


Schöb, Mia. 2016. “Disarming, Demobilising and Reintegrating Whom? Accounting for Diversity Among Ex-Combatants in Colombian DDR.” Peace, Conflict & Development: An Interdisciplinary Journal, no. 22, 117–78.

Author: Mia Schöb


This paper contributes to understanding how the Colombian Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) process accounts for a highly diverse ex-combatant population, whose composition will become even more diverse following the prospective peace agreement with the FARC. Analysing Colombian DDR discourse and practices through a gender and diversity-sensitive securitisation lens, I enquire how policymakers, academics, and practitioners understand diversity among ex-combatants, and how this understanding translates into reintegration practices. The analysis unpacks general de securitisation of all ex-combatants, however with different discursive logics along the lines of diversity. Revealing a nuanced strategy of male desecuritisation in Colombian DDR discourse, the findings contrast with previous studies on gender and DDR. At the same time, this work demonstrates the added value of a more holistic approach to diversity for understanding patterns of inclusion and exclusion in Colombian DDR. In a more policy-oriented discussion, it further points to inter and intra-institutional dynamics that undermine an effective implementation of existing programmatic approaches to gender and diversity in DDR.

Keywords: DDR, reintegration, armed groups, Colombia, Securitization, gender, diversity, discourse, analysis

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, DDR, Feminisms, Gender, Gender Analysis Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2016

Untapped Resources for Peace: A Comparative Study of Women’s Organizations of Guerrilla Ex-Combatants in Colombia and El Salvador


Dietrich Ortega, Luisa Maria. 2015. “Untapped Resources for Peace: A Comparative Study of Women’s Organizations of Guerrilla Ex-Combatants in Colombia and El Salvador.” In Female Combatants in Conflict and Peace, edited by Seema Shekhawat, 232–49. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Author: Luisa Maria Dietrich Ortega


Over the past decades, the international community has increased efforts to enhance spaces of women’s meaningful participation in all spheres of conflict to post-conflict transition. The acknowledgement of women as essential actors for sustainable peace has prompted advocacy activities to include women in planning, implementing and monitoring of peace-building efforts. Despite significant advances in the field, the challenge remains to overcome stereotypical notions that associate women as passive bystanders or only as bearers of the violent consequences of armed conflicts, while ignoring the role women play as political actors. A step towards a more inclusive and holistic transition consists of exploring contributions the female actors in armed conflict can bring to peace-building. Female ex-combatants have played active political and military roles in insurgent organizations. Besides their first-hand experience in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programmes, some of them maintain connections with former insurgent groups and may influence processes from within. In that sense, organizations of female ex-combatants constitute an untapped resource for the promotion of gender-responsive transitions. (Abstract from Springer)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, DDR, Gender, Women, Peacebuilding, Political Participation, Post-Conflict Regions: Americas, Central America, South America Countries: Colombia, El Salvador

Year: 2015

Reintegración y emprendimiento, análisis del programa de educación para el trabajo de la ACR para mujeres excombatientes


Matiz Cortés, Stefanie. 2016. “Reintegración y emprendimiento, análisis del programa de educación para el trabajo de la ACR para mujeres excombatientes.” Master’s Thesis, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana.

Author: Stefanie Matiz Cortés


Spanish abstract:

En esta investigación se hizo un análisis del programa de formación para el trabajo, que hace parte de la ruta de Reintegración Económica de la ACR, con el propósito de determinar si dicho programa lograba dar respuesta a las necesidades y expectativas sobre actividades productivas de las mujeres desmovilizadas de grupos armados. Para ello se realizó un estudio de tipo etnográfico – colaborativo que permitió comprender con las excombatientes, cómo y bajo qué condiciones se está desarrollando la dimensión productiva. Propone la profundización en el enfoque de género que tiene actualmente la Ruta de Reintegración con el fin de lograr que las exintegrantes de grupos armados logren reintegrarse en condiciones ajustadas a su realidad, sus intereses y sus posibilidades. En este sentido se rescata como elemento esencial las narrativas de las mujeres entrevistadas, ya que analizando sus necesidades, es indispensable que no se anule esa experiencia femenina dentro de la dinámica de la guerra y las transformaciones que experimenta en la sociedad. Por último se establece que es poco adecuado que los programas de emprendimiento sean considerados como un mecanismo de salida a la pobreza o una solución para impulsar el retorno de la población desmovilizada a la legalidad de forma autosostenible. Sencillamente porque el programa está planteado desde una perspectiva de emprendimiento por necesidad y no de emprendimiento por oportunidad, lo que va en contra de la naturaleza del emprendimiento y lleva la política al fracaso, pues lo que deberían ser empresas resultantes de aptitudes emprendedoras resultan siendo nada más que mecanismos simples de autoempleo (Abstract from original source​).

English abstract:

The purpose of this research was to analyze and look at the work of “the job training program”, as part of the economic reintegration path of the Colombian Agency for Reintegration, whose main objective was to determine if such program could give an answer to the needs and expectations of productive activities of armed group demobilized women .To do this, a collaborative-ethnographic study was conducted to better understand with the ex combats how and under what conditions productive dimensions have been developed. This research highlights the gender approach that the reintegration path currently has, in order to ensure that the former members of armed groups can reintegrate in fair conditions according to their reality, interests and possibilities. In this sense it is highlighted as an essential element the stories and narratives of interviewed women, as analyzing their needs is indispensable not to eliminate this feminine experience within the dynamics of the war and the transformations it faces in the society. Finally, it is stated that it is not appropriate that entrepreneurial programs can be considered as a mechanism to get out of the poverty trap or a solution to foster the comeback of demobilized population to legality in a self-sustainable way. Simply because the program is stated from the perspective of entrepreneurship due to necessities but entrepreneurship for opportunities, what goes against the nature of entrepreneurship and leads the initiative to failure, so what it should be seen as companies resulting in entrepreneurial attitudes it ends up as simple mechanisms of self employment (Translation from original source​).


Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Male Combatants, DDR Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2016


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