Jenny Pearce is a political scientist who specialises in Latin America. She works with anthropological and participatory research methodologies on social change, violence, security, power and participation in the region and beyond. She considers herself a peace scholar, committed to theoretical development of the field of peace, power and violence as well as empirical study.
She has conducted fieldwork since the 1970s in Uruguay, El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, and Venezuela. Professor Pearce has also developed a body of work around participation and exclusion in the global North, bringing learning from Latin America (South North learning) to the realities of urban conflict and tensions in the de-industrialised north of England.
She set up and directed the International Centre for Participation Studies in Peace Studies (2003 - 2014) and set up a Community University in Bradford with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Joseph Rowntree Foundation funding in 2013. She was Visiting Professor at the University of Monterrey (2014), Mexico; the Bolivariana Univeristy, Medellin, Colombia; and at the University of Edgehill’s Institute for Public Policy and Professional Practice (2016-2019). She continues to work on participation and knowledge exchange with communities in the North of England.
Jenny’s research has centred on understanding participation and social agency for change; theorising violence and security in Latin America; the impact of violence on agency and action, and theorising violence. She has co-developed participatory methodologies for researching violence and security (Violence, Social action and Research). Jenny was PI on the ESRC/Newton research project: Co-Constructing Security Provision in Mexico: A Methodology and Action plan from Communities to the State (2016 – 2018).
In 2020 she became Co-I in a two year Newton Fund Impact scheme led by Dr Trevor Stack of the University of Aberdeen: Enhancing Collaboration between State, Civil Society and Community in the face of Crime and Chronic Violence in Mexico.
Jenny published a monograph in 2019: Politics without Violence: Towards a Post Weberian Enlightenment (London: Palgrave Macmillan). She continues her theoretical work on violence, but also field research in Colombia, Mexico, and the Northern Triangle countries (see article, 2019). In El Salvador she has worked on memory and history with the communities of Chalatenango with whom she lived in 1984 during the civil war (access article, 2020).
Her current research focuses particularly on the role of Elites and Violence in Latin America. She is working with young researchers in Colombia, led by Juan David Velasco (Lecturer, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana), on elites and the Peace Accord. Together they are designing a data base to better define and differentiate elites. This tool is also to enable further research on elites, violence, and state formation in Latin America. The research is funded by the Instituto Colombo-Alemán para la Paz (CAPAZ).