Assistant Professor of Anthropology Winifred Tate received funding from the Democracy Program of the Social Science Research Council and the Open Society Institute for her project, “Paramilitaries, Citizenship and Political Participation in Colombia.” Her research uses women’s oral histories to study the impact of paramilitary groups, political violence, and drug trafficking on political participation in Colombia.

Though the vast majority of Colombians are not directly involved with paramilitary organizations, the impact of paramilitary groups on political life and democratic governance is one of the central issues in contemporary Colombia. Tate’s research uses women’s oral histories to examine the question: how have paramilitary forces shaped citizenship subjectivities — the ways in which people experience political belonging and participation, their expectations of the state and experiences of governance? In order to understand women’s analysis of the impact of paramilitary politics on citizen subjectivities in Colombia, Tate’s project will document the concrete ways in which women participate in public life, their relationships to political organizations and state institutions, and how they understand these practices and relationships. By privileging the life histories of women, her work will provide previously unrecognized data on how these forces have restructured economic opportunities for domestic households, as well as influence changing gender norms, life trajectories, child rearing practices, and educational and economic aspirations, she said.

This funding allows Tate to expand ongoing research with women in southern Colombia (funded from 2008 to 2011 by a grant from the U.S. Institute for Peace) to the Atlantic Coast of Colombia.