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Doctoral dissertation project of Franziska Englert

Making common ground for peace – The interplay between political discourse, reconciliation and societal transformation in the Colombian Peace Process between FARC-EP and the government (2010–2018) (working title)

The thesis explores the possibilities that popular Latin American daily soaps (telenovelas) offer to foster Transitional Justice and societal transformation in the context of a peace process.

Transitional Justice (TJ) has become a common way of dealing with the past in the aftermath of violent conflict to enable societies to reconcile and achieve sustainable peace. The concept sums up mechanism implemented by States to confront legacies of large-scale violence by revealing the truth, punishing perpetrators, providing reparation for victims and thus laying the foundations for reconciliation.

It is of utmost importance for the TJ process to impact the society as a whole to achieve its core goal of a societal transformation. This is even more the case in the peculiar TJ process in Colombia, which ended the internal armed conflict between the FARC-EP guerrilla and the Government that had been ongoing for more than 50 years. Yet, traditional, institution-centred TJ mechanisms (truth commissions, victims reparation programs, trials) tend to impact very little parts of the population. Against this backdrop, the project explores the possibilities that mass media initiatives offer to foster TJ and societal transformation in the context of a peace process. In an attempt to overcome the institutional basis that characterizes TJ. In order to do so, two Colombian telenovelas that were advertised as “telenovelas for reconciliation” will be analyzed. Based on expert interviews with staff of the broadcasting stations and telenovela production teams and mayor TJ stakeholders, the project attempts to examine which impact the telenovelas can have in these areas and contributes to bridging the research gap between media studies, psychology and Transitional Justice.


Short biography

Franziska Englert studied Latin American Studies at the University of Cologne and Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Argentina. During her studies, she worked as a student assistant in the library of Latin American History at the Universität of Cologne. Her interest in peace and conflict studies and especially the concept of Transitional Justice was sparked during an internship at the German Development Institute (Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik) where she afterwards worked as a graduate research assistant and gained practical experience in working in a research project. After finishing her Master’s degree, she was initially promoted by a half-year scholarship (Stipendium zur Promotionsvorbereitung) to prepare her PhD project. She is currently holding a scholarship in the a.r.t.e.s. integrated track program for a period of three years. The PhD project is supervised by Prof. Barbara Potthast (University of Cologne) and Prof. Dr. Anika Oettler (Marburg University). Franziska is member of the Transitional Justice Research Group at the Institute for International and Security Law at the University of Cologne. Her research interests include peace and conflict studies, democracy promotion and memory studies.

Contact: englertf(at)smail.uni-koeln.de



With Jonathan Schaub: A fruitless attempt towards plurinationality and decolonisation? Perplexities in the creation of indigenous territorial autonomies in Bolivia, Verfassung und Recht in Übersee, Special Issue “Between Centralized Federalism and Regionalized Centralism: Varieties of Territorial Organization in Latin America” (forthcoming).



“Telenovelas im Kontext des kolumbianischen Friedensprozesses“, 19 January 2019, Aktuelle Forschungsprojekte, Institut for Romance Languages, University of Cologne.

“Transitional Justice ‘without transition’? – Challenging an emerging paradigm”, 15 September 2018, Conference “Dealing with the past to create a peaceful future – Young scholar’s perspectives on Transitional Justice”, University of Cologne.

“Transitional Justice as a concept of entanglements in Latin America – Evidence from the Colombian Case”, 8 June 2018, InterAmerikanischer Studierendenkongress “(Des)conexiones en las Américas”, Bielefeld University.


Conference Organisation

Panel “Dealing with the Past to Create a Peaceful Future” at the international conference “Future today / yesterday / tomorrow: Visions of future(s) in the Americas”, 12 – 14 June 2019, Bonn University.

International conference “Dealing with the Past to Create a Peaceful Future: Young Scholars’ Perspectives on Transitional Justice“, 14 – 15 September 2018, Institute for International and Security, University of Cologne.


Cover photo: Kite in the Colors of the Colombian National Flag, Villa de Leyva (Credit: Franziska Englert) // Portrait photo: Patric Fouad