Mapping The Violence In Colombia Essay

2531 words - 10 pages

Mapping The Violence in Colombia

The peace researcher Johan Galtung proposes a typology of violence, constructed as direct and indirect, formal-informal and visible-invisible. Regarding it as a triangle, Galtung (1990) states that typology of violence corresponds roughly to the ‘ABC’ levels of the conflict triangle: Attitude, Behaviour and Contradictions. In the first level Direct violence (acts of violence as such) and in second and third level underneath the surface; Structural violence and Cultural violence. See figure below.

The ‘Structural Violence’ concept by Galtung (1969) asserts that the structure and culture in societies are a central facet on the explanation of violence; thus, ‘human beings are being influenced so that their somatic and mental realisations are below their potential’. The author distinguishes two types of outcomes of violence: a) effect that violence has; and b) the form of violence. The first is violence manifested on either person-to-person basis (such as familiar violence) or conflict confrontation (i.e. shooting). In the second one, the forms of violence are manifested within society, in its systems and institutionalised practices, and also violence as social phenomena and its constructions in mass media. This will set the basis for the next section to contextualise the multiple causes of violence in conflict situations, such as the case of Colombia, in order to understand the journalism coverage and the development of peace initiatives. I consider it important to analyse profound violence because of its complexity, diverse variables and causes involved, such as social, economic, political and psychological causes that help to comprehend this society and its journalism with violent and peace reporting practices.

2.1 - Violence pervasiveness and everyday life

Violence in Colombia is imprecated. Therefore, to define violence is a highly intricate process that has taken many decades for social researchers. Violence is understood differently in the cities than the countryside, in the north and south, and in places directly affected by conflict (see appendix 1). In general terms, the characteristics that intersect the general violent map in the whole country can be summed up in four types; structural, institutional, cultural and interpersonal. Violence and survival are another two elements to analyse, as citizens have created mechanisms of co-existence with violence by fitting the rules of paramilitary, guerrilla, drug-cartels besides the government structural norms. Therefore, these power agents in the country condition the behaviour of the population living in the middle of the war.

By applying Galtung’s cultural-structural violence theories to Colombia, it can be analysed that references to cultural-structural violence in this country can be found from popular culture to politics. Depicting its reality, TV, soap operas, cinema, journalism, news and literature illustrate violence as a part...

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