zum Inhalt springen

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



“Transitional Justice as a Concept of Entanglement in the Americas – Evidence from the Colombian Case”, forum for inter-american research (forthcoming).

With Jonathan Schaub-Englert (2019): “A fruitless attempt towards plurinationality and decolonization? Perplexities in the creation of indigenous territorial autonomies in Bolivia.” Verfassung und Recht in Übersee/ World Comparative Law, Special Issue: Between Centralized Federalism and Regionalized Centralism: Varieties of Territorial Organization in Latin America, 51 (1), pp. 67–89.



Workshop on Colombian Telenovelas and participation in Transitional Justice Processes, 8. Cologne Latin America Symposium, Cologne (scheduled).

“Broadcasting reconciliation, merchandizing peace? Colombian reconciliation telenovelas in the light of the Transitional Justice context in Colombia”, Empirical Research on Peace and Conflict, Annual workshop of the working group on empirical methods of the German Association for Peace and Conflict Studies (Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Friedens- und Konfliktforschung – AFK), 26–27 September 2019, Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik, Bonn.

“Truth and Telenovelas in Transitional Justice contexts – Exploring the possibilities”, Trust and Truth: AHRC International Interdisciplinary Conference, 18–20 September 2019, University of Cambridge.

“Telenovelas for a Peaceful Future – the Future of Telenovelas? ‘Reconciliation Telenovelas’ in the Colombian Transitional Justice Process” (Poster), Americas 2019: Visions of future(s) in the Americas – Futuro hoy / ayer / mañana, 12–14 June 2019, Bonn University.

“Telenovelas and Reconciliation in the Colombian Transitional Justice Process”, ADLAF Nachwuchstagung 2019 (German Working Group on Latin American Research, Conference of Young Scholars), 18–19 May 2019, Hamburg.

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

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


Organised events

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