The Many Returns of José Dolores: Displacement and Colombia’s Forgotten Midcentury Peace


Wednesday, March 29, 2017, 12:00pm to 2:00pm


CGIS South, S-250

Speaker: Robert Karl, Assistant Professor of History, Princeton University; Santander Visiting Scholar, DRCLAS

As their society attempted in the late 1950s to move beyond the Western Hemisphere’s worst midcentury conflict, Colombians collaborated on an unprecedented and far-ranging experiment in peace-making. At the heart of these efforts were attempts to resolve forced population displacement, one of the conflict’s signature consequences. This talk examines how the reversal of displacement, as both a social process and a cultural expression central to peace, contributed to new understandings of region and nation in Colombia. By the 1960s, however, the return of displaced Colombians also generated local episodes of violence that altered peace’s regional and national meanings, and opened the way for narratives that privileged violence over peace in Colombia’s history. 


Robert A. Karl is Assistant Professor of History at Princeton University. His book, Forgotten Peace: Reform, Violence, and the Making of Contemporary Colombia, will be published April 4, 2017 by the University of California Press. His other recent publications include “Reading the Cuban Revolution from Bogotá, 1957-62,” in the journal Cold War History, and several pieces on the Colombian peace process, which have appeared in NACLA and the Washington Post politics blog The Monkey Cage.