A widespread assumption exists that Latin America is a particularly violent region, with references often made to its high rates of criminality and homicides. According to this perspective, it would seem that violence, in its multiple forms, has turned into one of the worst crises to affect Latin America.
This kind of approach, which tends to view the subcontinent as a space where violent conflicts proliferate, often overlooks the fact that, at the same time, a great variety of concepts, visions and cultures of peace as well as proposals and strategies to overcome armed conflicts have been elaborated. Nevertheless, while much research has been done in the Humanities and Social Sciences on violence and conflict in Latin America, the same cannot be said of peace and efforts to achieve it.
In light of this situation, the Research Laboratory’s “Visions of Peace: Transitions Between Violence and Peace in Latin America” proposes an alternative focus on Latin American societies, on their history and on their social, political, cultural and economic structures. The Laboratory works under the assumption that any attempt at understanding these societies must start with the complex and intense entanglements between peace and violence. Following this approach, the Laboratory carries out case studies of different countries and historical moments in the region, as well as theoretical work on peace and violence, which might also represent a modest contribution to help address situations of violent conflict in other regions of the world.
In this sense, the Laboratory’s fundamental premise is that peace and violence cannot always be categorically distinguished from each other. On the contrary, each constantly implicates and, alternately, interferes with the other. Consequently, the Laboratory puts forward and scrutinizes concepts of peace and violence that have shaped Latin America in the past and in the present, including the diverse imaginaries that have evolved from them.
This approach allows the study, from a complex and updated perspective, of the different transitional processes that occur in present and past times between sociopolitical constellations where violence is predominant and others where peace prevails. Inverse transitions are equally analyzed, where peace is broken by the imposition of violence. The aim is to apprehend the specific configurations, the turning points, the liminal situations – that is to say: the crises – where peace apparently can be achieved or where it seems to be collapsing.
Prof. Dr. Christine Hatzky, Leibniz-Universität Hannover
Prof. Dr. David Arias, Universidad de Costa Rica
Prof. Dr. Werner Mackenbach, Universidad de Costa Rica
Prof. Dr. Joachim Michael, Universität Bielefeld