You are working on the Pathways to Reconciliation project, can you tell us about that?
The Pathways project comprises a UK-Colombian partnership, with a team of academics, researchers, professionals, NGO activists and practitioners from Fundación para la Reconciliación, Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá in Colombia and us (PBS at LSE). The project is rich and challenging because we are reaching out to communities in remote Colombian territories, which were often the battleground of the internal armed conflict that battered the country for decades. In terms of the research, we adopt a socio-cultural approach to human development under contextual adversity, where we are directly exploring experiences, meanings and narratives of young people and adults from five rural municipalities across the country. The project is centred on looking at the impact of the Schools of Forgiveness and Reconciliation (ES.PE.RE), a third-sector programme run by our NGO partners, on the psychological and social wellbeing of people living in these communities. We focus on mental health, social capital and lifetracks through a mixed method longitudinal design.
The project involves a lot of fieldwork and travel to Colombia, what do you enjoy about carrying out research abroad?
To me, carrying out research in Colombia is both a heartening and much needed experience, as it brings you out of the ‘WEIRD’ (Western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic) bubble. By working in the global south, I get confronted with the palpable realities of how context shapes life trajectories, keeping me grounded on the contradictions and difficulties that so many people face on a daily basis to overcome adversity. On a personal dimension, it enables me to explore and encounter my country differently, visiting remote territories that I had only heard about, where I get to witness first-hand their exuberant environment and life.
What is your favourite place in London to visit?
I don’t have a favourite place per se, London is vast so I feel I would need to take it borough-by-borough but when I am walking around the city itself, say from Monument towards the Tower Hill area, there is a delightful little ruined medieval church almost submerged in the greyness of modern buildings that is St Dunstan’s in the East. It carries the city’s history, having been damaged by the great fire and centuries later by the Blitz; yet today it stands adorned by the vines and foliage that embrace its leftover walls, offering a bench of tranquillity in its secluded garden, a place away from the frenetic urban energy to simply be.
The Pathways to Reconciliation project is currently underway with fieldwork in different locations in Colombia. To keep up to date with the research follow Pathways to Reconciliation on Twitter and visit the Pathways website.