Identity as a weapon for peacebuilding: Strategies and practices of the indigenous guard from Northern Cauca, Columbia

Paola Chaves Pérez

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


Indigenous people from Nasa group in northern Cauca Province, Colombia, are recognized for their resistance to the violent context. This thesis aims to advance in understanding how indigenous members of the Nasa community developed non-violent strategies to survive in the violent conflicts of Colombian context. For that, the Guardia Indígena, indigenous guard, is studied. An interdisciplinary and interpretative approach was used and data were collected by means of ethnographic methods, living in indigenous territory for over a year. This thesis concludes that the Nasa community have learned to manage the conflict in non-violent ways in their struggles by means of 1) first, collectively framing their history, in ways that their salient identity is as non-violent warriors, and moving towards non-violent practices, which leads to reconstructing their identity from warriors to non-violent warriors; 2) self-organisation and collective action for confronting armed groups when needed; 3) becoming an attractor that motivates people to join them and 4) being and remaining embedded in their own historical analysis, interpretations, and responses to the local context and adapting themselves when needed. Nasa people are active agents of change, they reject the idea of being victims of the system and continuously embrace the idea of agency, in terms of what can they do and then they do it. These strategies represent a framework used by Nasa people to claim their territorial control and contribute to everyday peacebuilding in a way that they resist the domination by Colombian society. Nasa communities are thus producing and transforming systems of governance, that do not respond to national dynamics and by doing this they are inviting us to go beyond normative thinking in peacebuilding, showing us the Nasa’s everyday practices of resistance and thus providing new potentials for conflict transformation in Northern Cauca, Colombia and potentially beyond.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Aarts, Noelle, Promotor
  • van Bommel, S., Co-promotor
Award date3 Dec 2019
Place of PublicationWageningen
Print ISBNs9789463951777
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Identity as a weapon for peacebuilding: Strategies and practices of the indigenous guard from Northern Cauca, Columbia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this