Peace museums

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Museum of Peace: A Chance for Resistance in Colombia

Colombia has a complex history of violence and conflict which, according to some scholars, despite is not an ethnic conflict is one of those conflicts that are very difficult to solve (e.g. see Kurtenbach, 2005). The 2009 report of the UNHCHR in Colombia highlights that “the full realization of human rights in Colombia continues to beaffected by a complex internal armed conflict, which is exacerbated by organized violence, particularly related to drug trafficking.” (p. 5).
The complexity of the Colombian conflict involves not only different actors, but also different ways to interpret their roles and their motivations. For instance, depending on the point of view, the guerrillas can be seen as political armed groups or as criminaland even terrorist groups. In consequence, some scholars currently see the conflict in Colombia as a new war, in which the differences between war, organized crime and massive human rights violations are mixed (Kurtenbach, 2005; Maldonado, 2003). According to Kaldor (2001) war usually means violence between states and organized political groups based on political reasons; organized crime is aprivate conflict where the violence is originated by particular motivations (usually economic motivations) and it is ruled by private armed groups; and the massive violations of human rights are carried out by states or armed groups (private or political). Thus the conflict in Colombia not only encloses 40 years of history but it is also an intricate amalgam of actors and motivations that permeatesall the spaces in the life of their citizens.
The consequences of this state of permanent violence are multiple; on the macro-level, the democratic institutions and the socio-economic development of the country have been negatively affected (UNHCHR, 2009). At the meso-level, schools, families, communities, etc. are victims in one way or another of this circumstance; for example, there are highlevels of sexual violence, domestic violence, internal displacement and so forth. The repertory of these situations is not only part of the strategies of the groups in conflict but it is now also part of the culture and the daily behavior of many people in Colombia. Finally, in the micro level, what is produced by this systemic problem of violence are victims and perpetrators, which in turn will feedthe entire cycle of violence (Chaux, 2003; Dodge, Bates, & Pettit, 1990; Widom, 1989a, 1989b).
The cycle of violence refers to the ideas that violence produces more violence and that victims will become perpetrators. Now, it is critical to understand that: 1) people learn and reproduce violence not only because they were direct victims of violence, but also because they were surrounded by itand 2) the reproduction of violence involves more than individuals, it involves structural and cultural aspects. In this sense, education plays a significant role in the efforts to break this cycle because is a process of permanent socialization, where people can build new, positive and constructive relationships and because is a process where it is possible to deconstruct and construct criticallynot only the way in which human relationships are established, but also the societal structure itself.
Peace education is a key element in the efforts to transform the reality of violence in any context, but especially in countries like Colombia, where the conflict is a chronic state and where is urgent to transform the dynamic of violence to finally reach a post conflict phase and, hopefully,to start a new process of individual, social and cultural reconstruction.
The purpose of this document is to present a proposal for a peace museum in Colombia as a strategy of peace education in a non formal context. The focus of this museum will be civil resistance in the country in the aim to promote and support this kind of movements and organizations as an alternative to violence and, in...
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