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Veterans, Ex-guerrillas, and Former Independence Fighters – Political Life in the Shadow of War
16 April - 17 April 2018
09:00 - 15:00
NIAS, Sint Jorishof
Korte Spinhuissteeg
Conference Room
By invitation

Ex-Combatants and Veterans Coming Home

Johan Skytte Manuscript Workshop

Current EURIAS Fellow Johanna Söderström convenes an international workshop on the political legacy of war for individual former combatants and their life path after coming home, across three different wars and cases.

Aim of the Workshop

“The aim of this workshop is to discuss a full draft of a book manuscript that I am currently working on at NIAS. The aim of this book is to understand the personal transition from war to peace, particular in terms of the political life histories that ensue after coming home. A central question for this book is therefore how the legacy of the combatant status is relevant for the political orientation and decisions across a lifetime after coming home from war among different former combatants? As such this book is attempting to understand the political legacy of war for individual former combatants and their life path after coming home, across three different wars and cases (ex-M19 guerrillas in Colombia, former PLAN-SWAPO independence fighters in Namibia, and Vietnam veterans in the USA). The idea of coming home, and the process of coming home, is a metaphorical one. Over the course of war, home is often transformed and it is impossible to return to the same thing, the same life as before the war. What coming home to is, is in that sense an open question, and something which the former combatant shapes as well. What is defined and seen as home is a negotiated experience, and one that often is filled with tension. As such, this book is trying to understand this political homecoming, and through that understand how societies come to peace.

The book is unusual in that it crosses a lot of boundaries, both geographical (Colombia, Namibia and the USA), disciplinary (political science and anthropology), and as a result theoretically as well (the perspectives on former combatants differ between types of wars, and how comparative work is done within anthropology and political science for instance). As such finding the balance between these perspectives, integrating them fully, while also doing justice to important differences between them, is a formidable challenge when completing this manuscript. Organizing this workshop allows me to gather valuable feedback from experts in their field and improve the manuscripts before publication. Improving the manuscript is therefore the first and principal aim of the workshop.

In addition, I believe the workshop can also bring scholars together from different areas and help further exchange within this network. The list of participants includes both junior and senior researchers, current and hopefully past NIAS fellows, as well as participants from different disciplines and universities.”

The Skytte Manuscript Workshop is an annual scholarly event inspired by Johan Skytte’s legacy in facilitating the progress of Political Science. The event gathers a group of prominent Swedish and international researchers for a three-day workshop the aim of which is to discuss a manuscript that aims to significantly contribute to the field of Political Science. It is sponsored by the Johan Skytte Foundation.

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