Anthropology, Department of


Date of this Version

Summer 6-16-2014


Flowerday, Charles, 2014. Emerging from The Shadows: Civil War, Human Rights, and Peacebuilding among Peasants and Indigenous Peoples in Colombia and Peru in the Late 20th and Early 21st Centuries. Master’s thesis in anthropology at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Anthropology, Under the Supervision of Professor Martha McCollough. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2014

Copyright (c) 2014 Charles A. Flowerday

In the wake of many decades of civil war, Colombia and Peru have both embarked on truth and reconciliation processes and have proactively pursued peacebuilding, a particular form of conflict resolution, in response to horrific, even genocidal, social violence.


Peacebuilding in Colombia and Peru following their late-20th and early 21st century civil wars is a challenging proposition. In this study, it becomes necessary as indigenous peoples and peasants resist domination by extractive industries and governments in their thrall. Whether they protest nonviolently or rebel in arms, they are targeted for human-rights violations, especially murder, disappearance and displacement. The armed actors, state, insurgency, paramilitaries or drug traffickers, destroy civic institutions (local or regional government) and the civil (nonprofit) sector and replace them with their own authoritarian versions. Therefore, peacebuilding has emphasized rebuilding civic institutions, civil society and local initiatives, also personal relationships across scales and sectors. What has been called “the third side” has become an important resource for the parties materially affected by the conflict, a role well suited to civil society.

I examine peacebuilding across levels of authority, complexity and interaction, as well as across scales such as international, national and local. I also look at peacebuilding across a hierarchy of human needs and the full complement of human rights. In the centerpiece of the thesis, I focus on case studies from two postmodern ethnographies.

One looks at highland villagers in Peru undergoing Western-style evaluations and treatment for their trauma in the wake of the civil violence and rituals of reconciliation allowing former rebels who abused human rights back into the community. The professionalization of human rights, along with a Western bias in official discourse, has blunted the full affect (emotions) and hidden the full effect of the mass violence from the broader audience. With human-rights professionals in Colombia, this professionalization also came at a price. The costs there were the fissures in the human-rights community across the local-to-national and reconciliation-to-liberation perspectives. Both groups required spiritual and psychological resources to anchor them in the midst of horrific violence. A new ethic and cultural paradigm of “interculturality” could greatly assist conflict resolution and peacebuilding in these situations.

Peacebuilding for the long term depends on sustainable-equitable development; respect for rule of law and transitional justice; retraining state and rogue armed actors; effective land reform; and resettling the displaced.

Adviser: Martha McCollough