Who am I?
I am a second year PhD student at Duke University working with Felipe De Brigard. My main interest is in understanding the relationship between memory and forgiveness from a cross-cultural perspective. My curiosity about this topic comes from growing up in Colombia during an active internal armed conflict, where we have a history of severe violence and therefore infinite possible instances of forgiveness. And, to be honest, it also comes from my personal experience with forgiveness… which we all have!
My research interests
Let’s start with bit of context about Colombia. During the past 60 years, all sorts of crimes have been committed: kidnappings, forced displacement, forced disappearance, selective murders, massacres, torture, etc. Different armed groups have been involved, drug trafficking has been an important aggravator, and deep complexities have perpetuated intense cycles of violence. Tons of persons (450.664 murdered, 121.868 disappeared, 50.770 kidnaped, 16.238 forcibly recruited, 7.752.964 displaced) have been directly affected during these years of armed conflict and the Colombian population as a whole has been indirectly impacted with generations growing under the fear of war. In 2016, the peace agreements were signed between las FARC-EP, the biggest guerrilla in the country, and the government, with the objective to build a peaceful society.
As we all can imagine, doing so implies an enormous number of challenges for victims, perpetrators, and the broader society. Some of the important and polemic topics involved with the efforts of building peace are memory and forgiveness. These topics raise all sorts of questions: Should we forget the serious damages committed by armed groups in order to move on? How can we forgive what seems to be unforgivable? Why is that some victims seem to have forgiven the perpetrators of terrible wrongdoings while others have not? How does the emotions that we feel when we remember change when we forgive? My colleagues and I try to answer these questions by doing experimental research with samples of victims in Montes de María, a beautiful region severely affected by violence, and of the United States in Durham, NC. You can find more about the project in our website.
What you will find in this blog
By doing this research, I have learned a lot in different ways, and I want to share those lessons. First, I will post about my experiences doing research in non-WEIRD (Western Educated Industrialized Rich Democratic) populations and I hope this to be useful for people interested in doing cross-cultural research. Second, this research makes me think about life, and sometimes I feel like sharing those thoughts (and feelings), so that’s something that you might also find here. Finally, just as a clarification, research-related topics that I might talk about are things that I am still working on. This means that they are most likely not yet scientifically tested, so take them with caution. Also, I will be happy to talk to anyone who is interested!
Nothing else to be said, let’s see how this goes!