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CAPAZ Projects

“Writing to reinvent yourself”: Publication of brief for CAPAZ supported project on autobiographical writing

Cover of “Escribir para reinventarse”

In the 2018 open call to fund research projects, CAPAZ supported a project led by the Research Centre and the Department of Psychology at the School of Social and Human Sciences, Universidad de Antioquia.

The project consisted of investigating the effects of autobiographical writing by victims of violence (almost all women). The group of writers later also welcomed a man who, like them, had had similar experiences of pain and who also shared with them the desire to write.

We are pleased to present the recently published journal “Writing to Reinvent Yourself” (Escribir para reinventarse), which brings together the project approach, development, and conclusions or findings.

Writing to Reinvent Yourself” Journal (in Spanish)

The publication also includes the stories told in first person and the creative texts of the project participants. The testimonies are an image of a very powerful inner process experienced by the victims, who went from being passive to generating a dialogue between themselves and the readers of their creations.

In the words of one of the writers, Mary Luz López: “’Books are for the rich’, my mother used to tell me as she looked at the large library in the house where she worked as a maid. There were all kinds of books there, but touching them was not allowed, they belonged to the employers, and I grew up thinking they were unreachable (…) Years passed. I had never written before, but at one point I was very ill, and I was heartbroken over losing my husband (…) writing is best friend because it has helped me to get to know myself, it has given me a chance to achieve things I didn’t think I could (…) Now I know that books aren’t just for the rich”.

Searches and some research findings

One of the objectives of the investigation was to explore the resignification of the past. But, the dynamics of the violence in Colombia and the development of the project itself made it clear that the past was still present in the participating victims.

In spite of the weight of the past, “it is not a question of being a bearer of memories of violence, these spaces recover other meanings, of recognising themselves as people who have crossed a path and can now speak about it; more than about violence, they narrate the ways in which they have reconstructed their lives”.

Another important finding was the powerful relationship between the written word, manual art and staging. A collective narrative was written based on personal stories, a testimony of the country’s memory through writing, painting, weaving, and theatrical performances.

Mary Luz López hopes that “this study by Universidad de Antioquia and CAPAZ will be useful for students, professors, professionals, organisations, people who like to write, and for those who came to see what this is all about”.

Pages of “Escribir para reinventarse”

Research project

The coordinating group for the study entitled “Autobiographical writing, subjective reparation and the construction of memory in women living in Medellín who are victims of the political violence” is made up of María Orfaley Ortiz Medina (research coordinator), Mauricio Bedoya (co-investigator), and Victoria Eugenia Díaz Faciolince (co-investigator). Also participating were Mauricio López (assistant) and Juliana Berrío (psychology practitioner), trainee students who supported the research activities.

The proposal presented to the CAPAZ Institute was endorsed by Dr. Tatjana Louis (Associate Professor at Universidad de los Andes), Luis Carlos Jiménez Reyes (Associate Professor at Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá), and Prof. Dr. Verena Dolle (Justus Liebig University Giessen).


More information and contact:

María Orfaley Ortiz Medina (Universidad de Antioquia):


(Text: Claudia Maya, English version: Tiziana Laudato)


Institutional advances of CAPAZ supported project at UTP

Photo: website UTP

The research project entitled “Persistence of community links and the construction of processes of memory and peace. The Quinchía case in the Risaralda department” was one of the projects supported by CAPAZ in the 2018 call.

This project is led by Alberto Berón, professor at Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira (UTP), in alliance with Professor Jefferson Jaramillo of the School of Sociology at Universidad Pontificia Javeriana (PUJ), and with the participation of the Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, in Germany.

As part of UTP’s validation of this research, a meeting was recently held at the university with students from both Colombian universities participating in the project (UTP and PUJ) and with historian Alfredo Cardona Tobón.

On Saturday, November 2, 2019, the Casa de la Cultura in Quinchía hosted the validation of testimonies, an activity carried out with some of the inhabitants of the municipality and participants in the project.

Newsletter on the UTP Web page (in Spanish).

Contact at UTP:


(Text: Claudia Maya, English version: Tiziana Laudato).


CAPAZ Territorial School in Pasto: Community experiences for peacebuilding in southwestern Colombia

The CAPAZ Territorial School took place from June 10 to 14, 2019 in Pasto, Nariño and was coordinated by the German Colombian Peace Institute – CAPAZ, Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia – Pasto Campus, Pastoral Social in Pasto, and the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Colombia.

The school was conceived as a training exercise and second phase of the CAPAZ-supported exploratory study led by research groups: La Minga and Indesco, attached to Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia based in Pasto.

The researcher and director of the CAPAZ Territorial School, Israel Biel reported on the findings of that initial investigation, which highlighted, among other things, the absence of the State precisely in the most vulnerable and complex territories in Nariño. “We therefore proposed a second phase of the research project that consisted of creating this territorial school taking into account that, if institutions and peace building mechanisms were going to be absent in these more conflictive areas, we had to bring the social actors (…) here to the university”, stated Biel.

Ángela Castillo, researcher and teacher at the school told us, “In the study, we wanted to explore what the people expected when ex-combatants arrived in Tumaco. We conducted this study and, based on the results, decided that we had to continue to advocate on these issues”.

You may also like (article in Spanish): “Community experiences for peacebuilding in southwestern Colombia”

Photo: Escuela Territorial CAPAZ in Pasto

In order to strengthen the capacities of local actors through education, the school convened a group of 25 participants made up of social leaders, human rights defenders, ex-combatants, and students. For Adolfo López, social leader of the Nariño region and student at the school, “it is important for there to be trained leaders who will show society and the country what is happening in our region”.

Cultural and academic programme

Based on the findings, the school curriculum was designed based on the following thematic axes: human rights, political participation, socio-economic alternatives for development, truth and justice, and construction of the social fabric.

Read the programme of the Escuela Territorial CAPAZ (in Spanish).

The teaching staff was made up of researchers from the Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia – Pasto Campus, Pastoral Social in Pasto, and the regional branch of the Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition.

The school’s academic agenda was complemented by cultural events. Concerts and a play on forgiveness and reconciliation promoted the integration and exchange of knowledge and experiences through art.

Photo: Escuela Territorial CAPAZ in Pasto

Once the workshops had been completed, the students highlighted the organization of the school, the high standard of the teaching staff, and the relevance of the topics addressed. Of special importance was meeting each other and the possibility of expressing concerns in an academic space different from the territory itself. As put by Martha Zapata, ex-combatant and a student at the school: “I learned how to replicate what I learned in each one of the communities as a contribution to the peace process”.




Here is the institutional video that brings together the experiences shared at the CAPAZ Territorial School, produced by the Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia – Pasto Campus (in Spanish).

Watch the audio-visual briefing note on the CAPAZ Territorial School published by CNC Noticias, the information service at Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia (in Spanish).

Watch the video interview with Angela Castillo (Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia Pasto Campus) and Mario Vallejo (Pastoral Social, Pasto), published by the “Voces de nuestra gente” programme by Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia (in Spanish).

(Text: Claudia Maya/English Version: Tiziana Laudato)



Photo: U. de A.

Participants in the seminar entitled: “Writing to heal, understand, and make memory” met on May 10, 2019 at Ciudad Universitaria, Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, to share experiences on overcoming pain and building memory through autobiographical writing.

The meeting was organised by the “Psychology, society and subjectivities” research group at the Department of Psychology at Universidad de Antioquia, and coordinated by professor and researcher Orfaley Ortiz Medina, who in turn led the CAPAZ-supported exploratory study titled “Autobiographical writing, subjective reparation and the construction of memory in women living in Medellín who are victims of the political violence”, one of the research projects on which the seminar was based.

Writing is serenity, voice, and hope

Researchers who coordinated the seminar. Photo: Hanna Thiesing

During the seminar, researchers presented the results of advanced research projects on the effects of subjective writing in overcoming acts of violence or forced displacement.

The presentations analysed the motivations that writing aroused in participants affected by different forms of violence; the transformations in the processes of pain or mourning as a result of writing; and, finally, how this exercise could contribute to the construction of memory.

The exercise of writing poses different transformations in each individual. In the first instance, words are a vehicle to pass from a situation (violent, victimising) of the past to a vision of the future; to pass from a story told from the “outside” (as official stories, for example) to an inner, personal story.

In the end, autobiographical writing raised the possibility of transforming an individual pain into a shared pain, silence into words.

Photo: U. de A.

Bridges and bonds are strengthened between those who write and share their texts -living texts-, and between them and those who read the texts. It is the recognition of the power that people (who no longer consider themselves as victims but survivors) have over their victimisers.

In sincere gratitude to Mary Luz, Jota, the two Rosalbitas, Ilda, Lucelly, Ady, María, Mónica… who bravely shared their texts, and their lives through them, on that sunny afternoon in Medellín.


“Writing to heal, understand, and remember”: video made within the framework of the study “Political effects of subjectivation on victims of violence, participating in writing processes” (project approved in the Convocatoria Programática Área de Ciencias Sociales, Humanidades y Artes 2016). Produced by: the “Psychology, Society and Subjectivities” research group at the School of Social and Human Sciences, Department of Psychology, Universidad de Antioquia, 2018. In Spanish.


(Text: Claudia Maya. English version: Tiziana Laudato)


Screening and discussion session on documentary “A recomponer”

The German-Colombian Peace Institute – CAPAZ, the Universidad del Rosario, the Universidad de los Andes and the Institute for Latin American Studies (LAI) at freie Universität Berlin are pleased to invite to the screening and discussion session on the documentary “A recomponer” (2018), directed by Patricia Ayala Ruiz.

The documentary tells the story of two former FARC-EP combatants, who laid down their arms and found a new way of life in music.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.

Auditorium 3, building Nuevo Claustro, Universidad del Rosario, Bogotá

This event is one of the activities of the exploratory study supported by CAPAZ entitled: “Between rifles and accordions: a database of music produced by FARC-EP (1988-2018)”. It is coordinated by Professor Rafael Camilo Quishpe (Faculty of Jurisprudence at Universidad del Rosario).

Admission is free, prior registration is required.

More information and previous registration


Activities in Caquetá and Huila included in the exploratory study on the reintegration of former combatants

Workshop in Montañita. Photo David Murcia

On March 21, 2019, German and Colombian researchers visited Huila and Caquetá, in Southwest Colombia.  Through workshops and meetings, they identified models of social reintegration for former FARC-EP guerrilla combatants, and some of the dynamics occurring with the communities in the reintegration process.

The activities were led by Solveig Richter (University of Erfurt, Germany), Andrés Restrepo (Centro de Estudios Regionales del Sur – CERSUR), and David Murcia (Instituto Alfredo Vázquez Carrizosa, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana), as part of the CAPAZ-supported exploratory study “Cooperation or confrontation? Exploring the link between the former FARC-EP guerrilla combatants and the communities affected by the conflict during the reintegration process”.

Workshop at ETCR in Montañita, Caquetá

A workshop was held to socialise the needs, identify conflicts, and create networks of dialogue near Montañita (Caquetá), home to the Territorial Training and Reincorporation Space (ETCR) Héctor Ramírez. The participants included representatives from local authority boards of nearby settlements. The ETCR has influenced the local community through development and cooperation projects, thanks to which work opportunities have been created. Nevertheless, there is much scepticism with respect to the future of the peace agreements and government decisions.

COOAGROPAZ members together with researchers. Photo David Murcia


The second reintegration model visited was the COOAGROPAZ cooperative, an organisation created by former FARC-EP guerrilla combatants, whose purpose is to support entrepreneurship and local development initiatives. In the meeting, the organisation’s founding members highlighted the need to change their reintegration model to one that is uncoupled from political decisions, in which the private sector can participate, and inclusive economic policies can be promoted.

ASOPROPAZ. Photo David Murcia


The third reintegration model visited is being developed in Algeciras (Huila). In this area, deeply divided by violence, ASOPROPAZ, an organisation formed by former FARC-EP guerrilla combatants, works on local development projects, in particular poultry farming. Participants in the workshop held there manifested their concerns about the future of the reintegrated former combatants and the political and social threats to which they are exposed. This situation may affect the post agreement stage in structural terms.

(Text by David Murcia. Revised by Claudia Maya).


“Building bridges is no easy task”

Photo Andrea Cagua

The event held on March 13 though 15, 2019 at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá was called “Memory, Academia and Civil Society: Building Bridges”. It was organised by the Uniandes, CAPAZ, the MemoriAL network, and the German Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, as part of the CAPAZ supported exploratory study called “Memory, Academia, and Society”.

The purpose of the event was to review and re-establish the role of academia in the multiple initiatives aimed at building historical memory of Colombia’s recent past.

The discussions developed through three thematic axes: the cultural products in relation with memory, the asymmetries in the production of knowledge on memory, and pedagogical and academic practices.

Through presentations, panels, and workshops, horizontal debate took place to build bridges –alluding to the title of the events- between the knowledge produced in academic spaces and that which is produced among civil society.

The activity brought together a diverse group of participants, including professors, researchers, people dedicated to music, and archive and museum management, members of the Armed Forces, demobilised people, activists, and peasants.

Photo Claudia Maya

The sessions shed light on the fact that academia still needs to open itself up and integrate other realities and types of knowledge when it comes to building historical memory. Although the academic sphere holds great responsibility as the producer of knowledge, it is far from being the only place in which to teach and learn about the past.

Building bridges is not an easy task and maintaining them is even more difficult. In order to continue this process, a trans media platform is being designed on which to share part of the experiences gathered during the event, and to open new pathways of exploration and reflection on the topic. In the second semester of 2019, it is expected to open the platform to the public.

(Text by Andrea Cagua. Revised by Claudia Maya).




On April 26, 2019 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., in the engineering auditorium at Universidad de Ibagué, will take place the seminar and workshop “Conflict, communication and mental health”, on empathic audiovisual methodology to be implemented during the recovery process of the victims of the armed conflict in Colombia.

The seminar and workshop is an activity part of the exploratory study supported by CAPAZ and coordinated from Universidad de Ibagué, entitled “Development of 4 of the 12 exploratory phases for the design and creation of the Centre of Audio-visual Memory for Peace in Tolima”.

In January 2019 a first event was held in the development of this exploratory study. This time, the participants will meet again to socialize the methodology built during that first experience.

Please confirm your participation here until 12:00 on April 24, 2019.

Further information (in Spanish)




We are pleased to share some pictures of the theatrical experience in Quinchía (Photos sent by Profesor Berón Ospina).


The community of Quinchía, a municipality located in Risaralda (Colombia) attended on March 24, 2019 the theatrical experience “Por hoy: relatos en tiempos de paz”, with the participation of community members under the supervision of the Colombian actress Reina Sánchez.

The theatrical experience resulted of the exploratory study supported by the CAPAZ Institute “Persistence of community bonds and construction of memory and peace processes”, with the participation of Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira (UTP)Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (PUJ) and KU Eichstätt-Ingoldstadt in Germany, and coordinated by researchers Alberto Berón Ospina, Jefferson Jaramillo Marín and Thomas Fischer.