Young People and Everyday Peace
Exclusion, Insecurity and Peacebuilding in Colombia
Young People and Everyday Peace is grounded in the stories of young people who live in Los Altos de Cazucá, an informal peri-urban community in Soacha, to the south of Colombia’s capital Bogotá. The occupants of this community have fled the armed conflict and exist in a state of marginalisation and social exclusion amongst ongoing violences conducted by armed gangs and government forces. Young people negotiate these complexities and offer pointed critiques of national politics as well as grounded aspirations for the future. Colombia’s protracted conflict and its effects on the population raise many questions about how we think about peacebuilding in and with communities of conflict-affected people.
Building on contemporary debates in International Relations about post-liberal, everyday peace, Helen Berents draws on feminist International Relations and embodiment theory to pay meaningful attention to those on the margins. She conceptualises a notion of embodied-everyday-peace-amidst-violence to recognise the presence and voice of young people as stakeholders in everyday efforts to respond to violence and insecurity. In doing so, Berents argues for and engages a more complex understanding of the everyday, stemming from the embodied experiences of those centrally present in conflicts. Taking young people’s lives and narratives seriously recognises the difficulties of protracted conflict, but finds potential to build a notion of an embodied everyday amidst violence, where a complex and fraught peace can be found.
Young People and Everyday Peace will be of interest to scholars of Latin American Studies, International Relations and Peace and Conflict Studies.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. Embodied Everyday Peace Amidst Violence 2. Half a Century of Struggles for Peace 3. Space, Power, and Terrains of Insecurity 4. Embodied Everyday Violences 5. Resilience and Resistance 6. Notions of Everyday Peace Conclusion
Helen Berents is a lecturer in the School of Justice at Queensland University of Technology, Australia. Helen’s research is centrally concerned with representations of youth in political events, and engagement with the lived experiences of violence-affected young people with a particular focus on Latin America. More broadly, she is interested in questions of how people are rendered insecure by institutions of authority and power, how young people are politicised but not seen as political, and how feminist methodologies open space to find the everyday within these explorations. Her work has been published in journals including International Feminist Journal of Politics, Peacebuilding, Critical Studies on Security, and Signs.
"By drawing on feminist IR work and critically engaging with notions of everyday peace, Helen Berents convincingly argues for widening our understandings of political engagement and questions narratives that situate young people as inevitably ‘problems’ rather than agential actors facing problems of conflict and violence alongside the wider community. This careful, ethnographically informed research offers rich, engaging details of the lived experiences of young people in the Colombian conflict and highlights how youth have navigated insecurity while demonstrating resilience and resistance."
Lesley Pruitt, Monash University, Australia and author of Youth Peacebuilding: Music, Gender & Change
"Empirically rich and conceptually sophisticated, Helen Berents’ latest contribution on young people’s thoughtful and creative navigations of insecurity develops important insights into peacebuilding in the midst of conflict and violence. More broadly, it is exemplary not only of what can be brought to light by taking children and youth seriously as agents of change but also how to sustain affirmation of both their agency and relative powerlessness in ways that hold them productively in tension."
J. Marshall Beier, Professor of Political Science, McMaster University
"Young People and Everyday Peace is a groundbreaking contribution to (re)populating IR that integrates ethnographic fieldwork with a focus on the meanings of peace constructed by people in their everyday lives. Berents listens carefully to the perspectives of young people on the margins of a complexly violent society. Drawing on feminist and embodiment theories, she centers young people’s experience, knowledge, and aspirations, showing how they imagine and forge an "embodied-everyday-peace-amidst-violence." Berents’ book is a must-read for anyone interested in how peacebuilding can be more genuinely inclusive, locally responsive, just and realistic. This book comes at just the right time for scholars and practitioners concerned about Colombia’s peace process."
Siobhan McEvoy-Levy, Professor, Butler University
"Young People and Everyday Peace by Helen Berents explicitly engages with how knowledge over terms such as peace and conflict are produced. The book is a powerful argument that peace exists amidst violence and can be found within the everyday routines and practices of the people who live in insecure and dangerous communities. It questions the liberal peace model but extends its critique to the ‘critical’ peace literature, as they both marginalize the voices of those who live amongst violence and whose daily practices and routines constitutes a struggle for peace. Berents convincingly argues that it is necessary to ‘repopulate’ understandings of peace and violence with the lived and embodied experience of those who are most affected by these terms. It is refreshing to have an account that takes the totalizing critiques of liberal peace seriously and then acts on it by seeking to understand the inter-relationship of violence and peace at the micro-level."
Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding