Netcapaz: “A paso de tesis…” Andrea Aagua talks about how she progressed in her doctoral dissertation
September will see the launching of a section in our Netcapaz newsletter to highlight the ups and downs of our young researchers who are engaged in research for their master’s or doctoral degree on peace issues. “A paso de tesis…” will highlight all those “twists and turns” typical of an ongoing research process: change of topic? can peace be researched objectively? did the family grow up? …. several different stories and only one true thesis.
We begin this month with a reflection by Andrea Cagua, Netcapaz researcher who is finishing her PhD in history at Katholieke Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt in Germany. Andrea has just presented her thesis entitled: “Vestiges of oblivion: mediations of memory and silences about violence in academic publications, press, and cinema in Colombia (1957 – 1978)”. Here are her answers about the experience of finishing a doctoral thesis:
Andrea Cagua has been registered with the Nectacapaz platform since 2019
Netcapaz: How has your research topic transformed since you started the doctoral process?
Andrea Cagua: More than the subject matter, what has changed is my approach. From the beginning, I was interested in the National Front and the ways of representing and constructing the meaning of the Violence of the forties and fifties. Perhaps a bit naively, I proposed an excessively broad topic and as I carried out the archival work and structured the text, I realized that I had to narrow it down and prioritize certain aspects.
At the same time, new works on the peace of the National Front appeared in these years and this helped me to adjust my question to the role of memory and silence in that process. I was particularly interested in public debates in different media such as cinema, the press and academic publications, and in identifying the ways in which these transmitted silences rather than narratives. Communication, politics, and culture is the triad through which I understood the ways in which hegemonic silences are constructed. With the recent delivery of the Truth Commission’s report, I felt that the topic is particularly relevant to understanding the mediations of memory.
Netcapaz: What specific issues related to the area of peace and conflict do you think your research will contribute to?
Andrea Cagua: I frame my thesis in the studies of memory and its relationship with official history. Specifically, I could mention that I want to contribute to the understanding of the reception of the Truth Commission report and its legacy from a historical perspective. Through my research, I was able to see that the distrust that certain political sectors have of history and memory, as well as the challenges faced by those who take on the task of generating historical awareness, are not a recent phenomenon. The contribution I make to the area of study would then be to know the background of the current public debates that take place around the stories of wars, the strategies that have historically been used by certain sectors to evade the discussions and the stigmatization suffered by those who turn to history as a tool for transformation and not for the defense of the homeland.
Netcapaz: ¿Qué productos de tu investigación han sido realizados recientemente?
Andrea Cagua: These last years of writing my thesis have been accompanied by presentations at international congresses specialized in memory. Also, based on the research process and the conclusions of my thesis, I have asked myself questions related to the duty of memory and research ethics. This has led me to try new practices for the dissemination of history and memory beyond my own research topic. I have ventured into the world of graphic novels, social networks, and audiovisuals, promoting interest in history.
Andrea networked with the CAPAZ Institute since the beginning of her doctoral thesis. Some of her activities include:
Online course: Historical cultures in Germany and Colombia: memorial processes, didactics of history, and political education
Conference: “Lest we forget” – Building bridges is no easy task