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Creating Organic Intersubjectivity: Ethnographic Scholar-Activism with the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, Colombia

Friday 17 April 2015, 3.00PM

Speaker(s): Gwen Burnyeat

The 'collaborative production of knowledge' is a problematic term, charged with tensions around inequalities of ethnographer-subject relationships. It is, however, an ethical and academic goal to work towards, to capitalise on the dialogue of knowledges between researcher and subjects. This paper presents the research relationship between a scholar-activist and the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, a rural peasant community which declared itself neutral to the five-decade armed conflict in Colombia in 1997 as a form of civilian self-protection. The paper explores the idea of this relationship-methodology as 'organic intersubjectivity', based on the circulation of three interdependent elements: narrative, affect, and shared political action, evident in the transition from NGO worker to independent scholar-activist; the institutional context; the 'activist' activities, and field research methods. This relationship is contextualised within current Colombian geopolitics, and academia and activism weave together in such a way as to create ownership of the research process, creating the conditions for the best approximation of collaborative production of knowledge.

Gwen Burnyeat is a candidate for a Masters in Social Anthropology at the Universidad Nacional in Bogotá, Colombia. She is a Leverhulme Trust Study-Abroad Scholar and also has a scholarship from Colombian government institution ICETEX. She holds a BA and MPhil in literature and postcolonial studies from the Universities of Leeds and Cambridge, and has worked for different human rights NGOs in Europe and Latin America including the International Centre for Transitional Justice and Peace Brigades International where she worked for two years as a protection officer in Colombia. She has published articles on transitional justice and community peace initiatives in the Revista Javeriana and the Journal of Human Rights Practice. She is a student fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute and the Association of Social Anthropologists, and a member of Rodeemos el Diálogo (ReD), a transnational network which supports the Colombian peace talks from civil society.

Location: V/045, Vanbrugh College, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DD