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How Images Can Construct Peace and Justice in Struggle-Torn Communities


It’s not straightforward for most individuals to consider what peace and justice imply to them, or tips on how to categorical it. However that’s what we ask folks in war-torn communities to do, all world wide.

One place we did that is in Colombia, a rustic now testing out peace after greater than 50 years of warfare between left-wing guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and authorities forces.

We requested folks in two villages, San José de Urama and Las Cruces within the nation’s northwest, to consider what they appeared for as indicators of justice and coexistence of their communities, what we name “on a regular basis peace indicators.”

By way of workshops utilizing a analysis methodology known as “photovoice,” a gaggle of the villagers selected a few of these on a regular basis indicators of justice and coexistence to {photograph}. They then created and displayed private and group photograph tales as a part of an open-air group exhibition.

We discovered that these communities wished to make use of pictures not solely to doc the aftermath of warfare and violence, but in addition to actively help peace.

Photograph Tales About Justice and Coexistence

In San José de Urama, folks on the lookout for indicators of justice of their group wished to see armed teams and the federal government telling the reality in regards to the warfare, and former guerrillas constructing households. They wished to see the reality bringing peace of thoughts, relaxation and reparations for the victims, and an finish to the violence.

Ex-guerrillas construct households: ‘All there’s to say is that they’re there, residing amongst us, they rebuilt their households and so they’re serving to to remodel the group.’ Yesica Alejandra Zapata David, CC BY-ND

For Francy Yulieth Manco Ferraro, an 18-year-old photographer from San José de Urama, a key component of coexistence in her group is the chance to be out of her home at any time. About this photograph, she wrote, “In a world filled with doubt and uncertainty, we may be calm within the information that, once we exit to the streets or to our land, we is not going to hear the terrifying sound of weapons; we will exit freely, to work our land, to reap our harvest, with out concern.”

Folks may be on the street at any hour. Francy Yulieth Manco Ferraro, CC BY-ND

Some photographers, equivalent to Leidi Johana Agudelo Higuita, used their work to pay homage to older members of the group who had survived by means of the years of the battle and saved their communities alive.

The reality brings peace of thoughts, relaxation and reparations for the victims: ‘I needed to reside a warfare that wasn’t mine … . However the fact will set us free, or at the very least I consider so. I’ll always remember how I used to be a prisoner in my very own land. I’ll always remember who I’m now, a survivor and a dignified campesino.’ Leidi Johana Agudelo Higuita, CC BY-ND

In Las Cruces, three generations of the identical household, a grandmother, mom and daughter, participated within the pictures workshops collectively. The mom, Yenifer Yuliana Higuita Bedoya, emphasised the significance of household togetherness.

Households have extra time to spend with one another: ‘These sorts of moments are the perfect method of forming the type of lasting bonds that assist you overcome adversity, and it’s the way you be taught the rules and values wanted to be a correct a part of society. Yenifer Yuliana Higuita Bedoya, CC BY-ND

One other photographer, 15-year-old Yuliana Andrea David Hidalgo, drew consideration to the significance of youngsters with the ability to play free from concern. She explains her {photograph}: “Earlier than, whenever you heard gunshots, everybody would run to cover below the mattress or in some secure place in the home, and now youngsters conceal below the mattress or in secure locations as a result of they’re taking part in hide-and-seek.”

You don’t want to cover below the mattress to guard your self from bullets. Yuliana Andrea David Hidalgo, CC BY-ND

Paula Andrea Pino Sarrazola, a photographer from San José de Urama, highlighted the significance of collective work of their mountain farming tradition. “‘You want one hand to clean the opposite, and each to clean the face’ is a saying that grandparents say,” she defined. “That’s what a minga is. When folks don’t have the cash to pay day laborers, they ask others to assist them, after which the favor is repaid. On this method, a whole lot of farms and companies have been saved from chapter. A minga – or collective work group – saves lives and land, and protects democracy, justice and peace.”

Members of the group assist each other get necessary work carried out, equivalent to tending livestock. Paula Andrea Pino Sarrazola, CC BY-ND

Different indicators about coexistence included folks treating avenue animals nicely and the federal government sustaining the roads.

The state maintains the entry roads to Urama. Tatiana Durango Rincón, CC BY-ND

For one in every of their collective photograph tales, the group in Urama captured the dilapidated state of their cemetery. Within the caption, they wrote, “The deterioration of the cemetery is a testomony to how a lot the lifeless are disregarded. Weeds devour the tombs simply as our minds eat away at our reminiscences. Wouldn’t it not be the precise factor for us to return collectively to take care of it, and honor the reminiscence of the lifeless by holding this place of transit to the afterlife lovely?”

The group, with the help of the church and Juntas de Acción Comunal (group motion boards), maintains the cemetery. Urama Images Collective, CC BY-ND

After documenting the cemetery’s dire state of disrepair, these photographers determined to take motion. Greater than 80 folks labored for 2 days to clear weeds and to restore and repaint buildings, memorials and tombstones.

Volunteer group members work to restore and preserve the native cemetery. Urama Images Collective, CC BY-ND

We’ve discovered that pictures may also help folks and communities heal as they give the impression of being again at what has been misplaced because of the battle and use their photos to offer an area for dialogue about tips on how to construct a distinct future.

Images lets group members honor what’s necessary to them, take pleasure of their tradition, name for justice and spotlight what is required to construct enduring peace.

We additionally discovered that combining pictures with our on a regular basis peace indicator method amplifies native voices, illuminating what policymakers and worldwide donors usually miss about what issues to the on a regular basis lives of the group members they help.


The authors want to acknowledge members of the EPI Photovoice staff, Edwin Cubillos and Manuela Munoz, the Urama Images Collective and the Cruces Images Collective, and EPI analysis assistant Miranda Pursley.


In regards to the writer: This text was written by Pamina Firchow (Affiliate Professor of Coexistence and Battle, Brandeis College), Tiffany Fairey (Leverhulme Belief Early Profession Fellow, King’s Faculty London), and Yvette Selim (Senior Analysis Affiliate, Institute for Public Coverage and Governance, College of Know-how Sydney). This text was initially revealed at The Dialog and is being republished below a Artistic Commons license.


Picture credit: Header photograph: Undertaking citizen-photographers from Las Cruces, Colombia. Edwin Cubillos Rodriguez, CC BY-ND.



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