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Abstract

What kind of citizen-subject is co-constructed in reintegration for ‘post-conflict’ Colombia? And how does this work concretely? I am interested in social engineering through reintegration programs for larger peace and statebuilding and in the ground-up contestations thereof. Analyzing original empirical data from three feminist institutional ethnographies with over 300 ex-combatants, state workers and others, I show how ex-combatants and regional reintegration workers reproduce, but also struggle over, contest and negotiate differently what it means to be a ‘good, decent or normal citizen’ and what notions of ‘peace’ and ‘state’ underlie these assumptions. Maneuvering the contradiction-loaded spaces of everyday reintegration, they make reactive and proactive claims to agency and play ‘serious reintegration games’ with each other, towards and against the reintegration bureaucracy. In a neo-liberal reintegration program that envisions ex-combatants as de-politicized, productive and responsible individuals at the policy level, ex-combatants emerge as deeply political and differently gendered and raced citizen-subjects, who sometimes stretch the boundaries of what is thinkable do-able and desirable within their contexts as queering figures to the social order of peace. What a top-down perspective misinterprets as ‘implementation failures’ are careful balancing acts of messy power relations within persistently patriarchal and militarized regional scenarios that complicate (re-)integration. Overall, ex-combatants appear as local-level peacebuilders who contribute to building peace and state differently—from the ‘mini-state’ of the family, the community, and their regions up.

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