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Title: Unending war? : the Colombian conflict, 1946 to the present day
Author: Shiraz, Zakia
ISNI:       0000 0004 5350 1159
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2014
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The Colombian conflict is one of the world’s longest running civil wars. The country is home to the highest number of internally displaced people in the world, estimated to be up to 5.5 million in 2012. Spanning almost seven decades, the undeclared war has cost the lives of millions. However, despite these alarming figures, Colombia remains one of the least studied of the major Latin American countries. The conceptualisation of the Colombian conflict has been overwhelmingly shaped by two theories of civil conflict, “New Wars” and “Greed vs. Grievance”. Whilst these studies have provided an insight into some of the dynamics of Colombian conflict, such as the drugs trade, the historical continuities of violence and internal drivers of insecurity have been largely ignored. This study re-interprets the long-standing Colombian conflict with an emphasis on a history ‘from below’. It addresses this lacuna in the current literature and offers an alternative historical analysis of the conflict by exploring government policies and local dynamics. This research contributes the existing literature by providing local nuances to the two parallel theories of civil war that have dominated the discourse of violence in Colombia. The “new” characteristics of modern civil war are not new to Colombia. For almost seven decades, Colombia has seen high levels of violence against a civilian population, paramilitary and criminal activity. The idea that “greed” fuels violent conflict fails to explain why thousands have joined various guerrilla movements and endure harsh living conditions in which they risk their lives for a political cause. Importantly, this theory neglects the internal socio-economic problems in countries with persistent levels of violence. Using an area studies approach and drawing upon recently declassified material from the US and UK governments, press clippings and fieldwork in Colombia, this study highlights the historical continuities of violence in Colombia, which are characterised by economic and security grievances. It examines the conflict from the ‘forgotten civil war’, known as la Violencia, and goes on to illustrate how persistent failures by the Colombian government to solve the rural and agrarian problem and the political exclusion of those claiming to represent the rural population have constituted the fundamental motor of violence over several decades.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Department of Politics and International Studies ; University of Warwick
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: F1201 Latin America (General)