Netcapaz: Magda Viviana Téllez talks to us in “A Paso De Tesis” about her master’s thesis

Netcapaz: Magda Viviana Téllez talks to us in “A Paso De Tesis” about her master’s thesis

We recently interviewed Magda Viviana Téllez on “A paso de tesis…”, the Netcapaz platform’s section dedicated to young researchers. Telléz recently finished her Master’s degree in Science in Natural Resources and Rural Development at El Colegio de la Frontera Sur ECOSUR – ECOSUR (Mexico). Below is her testimony.

NC: How has your research topic transformed since the beginning of your master’s studies?

VT: The topic of my research was born from a personal position and from my own experience as a victim of the Colombian armed conflict, as I was forcibly displaced from Capitanejo (Santander) with my family when I was a child. From there my interest in forced mobility. Later, when I was a master’s student in Chiapas (Mexico), I was a migrant and experienced some of the circumstances that migrants go through. Thus, within the framework of the Master of Science in Natural Resources and Rural Development with a focus on social and cultural studies, I proposed to investigate forced mobility in Latin America from a comparative perspective focusing on migrant women from two countries: Venezuela and Honduras. This challenge grew thanks to the participation of the co-producers, i.e., the migrant women of these nationalities who accompanied me in the research process that took place in Villa del Rosario (Cúcuta, Colombia) and Tapachula (Mexico, border with Guatemala). In the study, I compared the cultural configurations—a concept proposed by Alejandro Grimson— that occur in these territories through the experience of forced mobility of migrant women. Specifically, I compared the construction of cross-border territories, and what happens to the human beings who migrate, the conflicts, the violence, and the actors involved.

The research has an ongoing connection with the issues of peace and conflict, as it involves an analysis not only of the contexts of origin and what has happened in them to propitiate the processes of forced mobility, but also of what happens in the cross-border territories and countries through which migrants transit or in which they end up. My research also proposes a reflection on the problems of armed conflicts, the importance of social integration based on rights, and the need for a search for peace from the possibility of construction. It does this considering not only with the insurgencies, but from a social fabric in which the integration of other views on the migratory phenomenon allows “other dialogues” towards a true peace.

NC: What specific issues related to the area of peace and conflict do you think your research will contribute to?

VT: I have previously addressed some of them, but I would like to stress the importance of understanding that when talking about peace and conflict, we must include migration issues and  approach them from different perspectives that allow us to unravel what lies beyond the borders, including the armed actors that are present in cross-border territories, and the conflicts in countries that affect  Latin American. Indeed, the history of the region itself has been written in the key of human mobility (both forced and not).  When entering into the migratory process, the need for dialogue on peace becomes evident, not only from the framework of armed conflict, but also from a peace with social justice in which bilateral relations, interculturality, multi-territoriality, and other processes are seen as a possibility for weaving other narratives and alternatives of (dis)encounters in which diverse actors converge and build peace from their capacity for agency.

We must also question the securitized views of the countries regarding the migratory phenomenon and to reflect on the opportunities and challenges they represent. That is why this research contributes in its comparative exercise to analyse the cultural configurations that are produced in these territories, thus offering the possibility of observing what happens in them through those who expeience the migratory processes. I also propose opening a debate on what is understood by forced mobility in a globalized world and the need to rethink the role of Latin America in peacebuilding in the region, as well as in the change of paradigm with which the migration phenomenon is approached. This, in order to contribute to a new Latin American reading of migration, its causes and consequences; a new reading in which “borders” are not synonymous with death, violence, and oblivion.

NC: Which of your research products have materialised recently?

VT: For now, based on my research “Cultural configurations in the experience of forced mobility of young women in two Latin American cross-border territories” I have written an article entitled “Tattooing life beyond borders. Autoethnography of migrant bodies”. I have also participated as a speaker in the online seminar “Let’s talk about Colombia: Challenges and Debates in Peacebuilding” held by the School of Social Sciences at Universidad de Valencia with the paper: “The migratory process of Venezuelan women in Colombia, a perspective from peacebuilding”. This seminar was held in May 2023. I am also part of the Working Group “Borders, regionalization and globalization” of the Latin American Council of Social Sciences/GT FRG CLACSO).

Find out more here:

Ficha Netcapaz – Magda Viviana Tellez