Meanings of the concept of “democracy” vary significantly between the so-called Global South and the Global North. Especially in Latin America, demands for a “democratization” of power structures were more often than not linked to socio-economic rights and collective rights in order to overcome structural inequality. Thus, democracy and democratization often came along with violent struggles, conflicts and armed confrontations.  Colombia is a case in point. As an OECD-country and often framed as one of the longest standing democracies in South-America, it has been facing conflict for over 60 years. In 2016 a peace agreement was signed between the Colombian government and one of the biggest rebel group, the FARC. However, due to lacking implementation of the accord and a political vacuum left by the demobilization of the FARC, violence reoccurred at local level throughout the country. In August 2022, a former rebel and left-wing politician was for the first time in the history of the country inaugurated as president.


In this class, students will learn about Latin American perspectives on “democracy” and will understand why democracy and democratization often is linked to violence in these counties, notably in Colombia. Since this is a research oriented seminar, students will learn to develop their own analytical framework based on initial readings and implement a small group-based research project during the course. Thus, the seminar does not follow a top-down and lecture-based methodology but rather a student-driven and problem-oriented classroom teaching with supervision and group work.


Semester: WT 2022/23