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‘Violence is who we are’: Adolescents Constructing Human Rights Consciousness in ‘Postwar’ Guatemala

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Abstract:

National education reforms in Guatemala’s postwar years have centered on supporting civic skills and human rights awareness, while largely silencing historical analysis of the recent armed conflict. But given Guatemala’s current landscape violence and democratic fragility, it is unclear whether young people find relevance in the principles of human rights, as well as how they interpret their disarticulation from Guatemala’s history of violence. Everyday experiences with a deeply unequal society may further undermine this educational approach and the transitional justice goals that underlie it.

Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this paper explores how ‘postwar’ generation youth in urban and rural communities construct human rights consciousness, drawing on the language and principles of human rights to generate their own narratives about past and present violence. Young peoples’ interpretations of human rights pivot along interpretations of past and present injustice, exhibiting three contrasting stances: narratives of denial in which adolescents reject the normative claims of the human rights framework, narratives of skepticism in which they question whether human rights can be effectively practiced in Guatemala, and narratives of empowerment in which they embrace justice initiatives for past and present violence through the lens of human rights.

While outlining a typology of human rights consciousness among Guatemalan adolescents, I explore how young people draw on the multiple histories and silences that they have been presented with through formal and informal educational encounters.

I am currently completing my doctoral studies at Harvard Graduate School of Education, under the mentorship of Dr. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot.
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Name: Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference
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MLA Citation:

Bellino, Michelle. "‘Violence is who we are’: Adolescents Constructing Human Rights Consciousness in ‘Postwar’ Guatemala" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Mar 10, 2014 <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p717338_index.html>

APA Citation:

Bellino, M. , 2014-03-10 "‘Violence is who we are’: Adolescents Constructing Human Rights Consciousness in ‘Postwar’ Guatemala" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p717338_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: National education reforms in Guatemala’s postwar years have centered on supporting civic skills and human rights awareness, while largely silencing historical analysis of the recent armed conflict. But given Guatemala’s current landscape violence and democratic fragility, it is unclear whether young people find relevance in the principles of human rights, as well as how they interpret their disarticulation from Guatemala’s history of violence. Everyday experiences with a deeply unequal society may further undermine this educational approach and the transitional justice goals that underlie it.

Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this paper explores how ‘postwar’ generation youth in urban and rural communities construct human rights consciousness, drawing on the language and principles of human rights to generate their own narratives about past and present violence. Young peoples’ interpretations of human rights pivot along interpretations of past and present injustice, exhibiting three contrasting stances: narratives of denial in which adolescents reject the normative claims of the human rights framework, narratives of skepticism in which they question whether human rights can be effectively practiced in Guatemala, and narratives of empowerment in which they embrace justice initiatives for past and present violence through the lens of human rights.

While outlining a typology of human rights consciousness among Guatemalan adolescents, I explore how young people draw on the multiple histories and silences that they have been presented with through formal and informal educational encounters.

I am currently completing my doctoral studies at Harvard Graduate School of Education, under the mentorship of Dr. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot.


Similar Titles:
Remembering the past in “postwar” Guatemala: Human rights education, historical silence, and a culture of impunity

A New Indigenous Citizenship: Constructing Citizen Rights from Human Rights at the Grassroots in Guatemala

Gender Violence, Subjectivity and Uneasy Privilege: Situating Human Rights Workers in Guatemala’s CEH and REMHI truth and memory processes


 
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