Vanesa Giraldo Gartner

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Massachusetts, Amherst, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9997

Approve Date

August 26, 2020

Project Title

Giraldo Gartner, Vanesa (Massachusetts, Amherst, U. of) "Governing Reproduction in War and Peace: Contraception, Abortion, and Maternity among Ex-Combatants in Colombia"

VANESA GIRALDO GARTNER, then a graduate student at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, was awarded a grant in August 2020 to aid research on ‘Governing Reproduction in War and Peace: Contraception, Abortion, and Maternity among Ex-Combatants in Colombia,’ supervised by Dr. Thomas Leatherman. This research examines how reproductive politics shape women’s participation in the armed conflict and peacebuilding in Colombia by analyzing and comparing the reproductive experiences of ex-combatant women who demobilized before and after the 2016 peace agreement between the Colombian government and the guerrilla group FARC. The government has alleged that mandatory contraception and forced abortions were ordinary forms of sexual violence against female fighters, who made up from 30% to 40% of the fighting force. During peace negotiations, however, female leaders of the FARC responded to these accusations arguing that being a mother was a choice and not an obligation for them. This research complicates the narrative of victims versus rebels by analyzing the centrality of governing women’s reproductive lives in war and peace. It combines traditional and non-traditional ethnographic methods, including 38 interviews, multi-sited participant observation, one digital storytelling workshop, attendance to Facebook events, and co-hosting a radio program. Findings suggest that governing reproduction in war is an essential biopolitical strategy to incorporate women in armed groups, regulate their bodies, and determine the relationships of the groups with communities. In the aftermath of war, reproductive policies influence the political participation of women in peacebuilding and the reconstitution of their communities.