“Who Doesn’t Want Peace?” Peace-making in Colombia and Specters of Cuba, 1958-2016

Wednesday, 8 February 2017 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm



This presentation compares two peace processes in Colombia. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the National Front’s efforts to secure political reconciliation and prevent “another Cuba” materialized a series of social, political, and economic programs that led, perhaps as an unintended consequence of such efforts, to the emergence of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Two generations later, President Santos' administration and the FARC have signed a peace agreement that can potentially end the longest conflict in the hemisphere. By tracing a genealogy between these two experiences, this talk explains how the transnational meanings of “Cuba” have shaped Colombian discourses on peace, and historicizes how different actors— peasants, urban workers, middle class professionals, women, and elites—have envisioned “peaceful” societies. In so doing, it seeks to shift the register of analysis away from an assumption of peace as a transcendental solution to a violent present to a more critical interrogation of peace—as an idea, as a practice, and as a political project—through which multilayered repertoire of competing imagined societies defined by economic interests, gendered discourses, and racial categorizations have historically struggled for supremacy.


Ricardo’s teaching interests include Latin American history, world history, and histories of democracy. His research focuses on labor and class formation in modern Latin America and the Americas. He is co-editor of The Making of the Middle ClassToward a Transnational History, (Duke, 2012). He is currently working on two research projects: a history of the Peace Corps in Latin America in the 1960s and a history of the elites in Colombia during the second half of the 20th century.