Strategic Litigation, Social Mobilization, and Memory Building: Colombia 1990 - 2010
Ernesto Fabián Mieles González
The overall focus of the research is in the sociology of memory. I intend to explore the diverse memory-construction processes that have emerged as a result of the requests and demands made by the victims of massive and systematic violence and the organizations that provide them with legal support. Likewise, I intend to show how communities of meaning can be created and strengthened; in other words, how ‘mnemonic socialization’ (Zeruvabel) can be produced though law.
The dissertation seeks to: demonstrate how disputes and paradigms emerge, identify the actors involved in the assemblage (Deleuze’s agencement) of the struggles for memory, understand the channels through which these struggles are being carried out, and finally, reveal the concrete outcomes of the process of legal assemblage of memory. Therefore, the analysis begins with the recognition that there are hegemonic and dominant memories and alternative or dissident memories, often toxic, held by marginalized and excluded social actors that nonetheless struggle for the institutionalization of their particular remembrance and for the punishment of those responsible for the violation of their rights (Jelin).
In this sense it is of utmost importance to analyze the democratizing potential of judicial action, the eventual construction of memory that is inclusive of the victims, and the interrelationship between the legal demands and narratives and the diverse expert languages that operate in the social field analyzed (professional and independent historians, political scientists and sociologists, judges, etc.). It is necessary to determine how marginalized groups overcome the variety of barriers (practical, motivational, institutional, and formal) relying on their networking capacities (Gloppen). Likewise, it is appropriate to inquire into the relation between the litigation undertake by these groups and the more generalized processes of social mobilization, as well as the impact that both have on the formation of “vindication” speech.
In this context, the victims will not be analyzed as witnesses, but rather as decisive actors in the elaboration of narratives that are the object of legal institutionalization. In light of this, it is necessary to demonstrate the dimension and reach of the legal narratives of the past in order to consider memory as an intersubjective experience, and thus, capable of being communicated