Music and Reconciliation in Colombia: Opportunities and Limitations of Songs Composed by Victims
Pinto Garcia, ME
Music and Arts in Action
University of Exeter
© Music and Arts in Action 2014
Colombia is a war-torn society where an important number of conflict-related songs have been composed by victims at the grassroots level. In order to develop a better understanding of the scope of music as a tool for reconciliation, this paper examines some of these songs and analyzes the extent to which this music may or may not contribute to reconciliation in both, the audience and the composers. To do so, semi-structured interviews were conducted with the composers, and a focal group exercise with ex-combatants was organized in order to analyze the impact of these songs on the listeners. The results of the analysis indicate that these songs entail opportunities but also limitations regarding reconciliation. On one hand, they have constituted storytelling tools that contribute to the historical memory of the conflict in Colombia in a way that is accessible for all types of public. In addition, the process of composition by victims and the musical activity itself embody an outlet through which composers release feelings and redefine identities. Moreover, in an audience made up ex-combatants there were some expressions of sympathy, understanding, and trust. However, the research shows contrary effects as well. The content of some songs may incite revenge, reinforce stereotypes and mistrust, and enlarge differences between the sides instead of reducing the distances. The results indicate that music may embody several opportunities but also limitations as a tool for reconciliation.
The Japanese International Cooperation Agency and the “Tokyo University of Foreign Studies’ Advanced Training Programme for International Cooperation through Internship and Field Research” are acknowledged for their kind financial assistance, which funded my graduate studies and my field research.
This is the final version of the article. Available from the publisher via the link in this record.
Vol. 4 (2), pp. 24-51