Pilar Riaño-Alcalá

Assistant Professor
PhD, University of British Columbia
School of Social Work

Pilar Riaño-Alcalá (PhD in Anthropology) is an associate professor at the School of Social Work and faculty fellow in residence at the Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia, Canada. She is also a researcher with the Colombian Commission of Historical Memory, working for the last four years in documenting emblematic cases of war related to violence in Colombia (gender violence, forced displacement, massacres, land grabbing). Pilar has also led the development of a methodological strategy and resource material for the documentation of historical memory in zones of armed conflict and from a victim-centred perspective. She has trained memory workers, researchers and academics on these methodologies in Colombia, Uganda and Canada.

Pilar’s scholarly work is primarily concerned with three broad themes: the lived experience of violence and displacement, the politics of memory, and the ethnography of social repair. Pilar’s work also explores how ideas of community are negotiated and contested in contemporary societies, and how individuals construct their memberships as citizens, community members, refugees, immigrants or across transnational borders through social struggles and creative processes. She is the author of Dwellers of Memory. Youth and Violence in Medellin, Colombia (Transaction Publishers, 2006), among many others articles and co-authored books and reports.

Primary Recipient Awards

Exploratory Workshops, Pilar Riaño-Alcalá, 2011

Pilar Riaño-Alcalá

This workshop was held Feb 23-24, 2012.

Violence ruptures social relations between intimate others: neighbours turn against neighbours; teachers betray their pupils; clergy transgress their congregations; mothers doubt their sons, nephews fight their uncles. How do people, families and communities restore their relationships when the bases of ‘the social’, ‘family’, and ‘community’ have been frayed? What does social repair mean in these everyday contexts and within the extraordinary circumstances of displacement, separation, war and disappearance? How can the field of transitional justice consider these everyday processes to better their theoretical and practical approaches?

To address these questions, this exploratory workshop brings together leading UBC, national, and international scholars from Law, Anthropology, Political Science, Social Work, Indigenous Governance Studies, History, Performance Studies, Women and Gender Studies, and Regional and Community Planning. The academic objectives of the workshop are threefold: 1) to conceptualize micro-level memory and reconciliation practices, and performances of social repair; 2) to develop a framework of how such micro-level practices interact with national and international processes of transitional justice and; 3) to examine the implications of these ideas to the field of transitional justice.

The workshop brings into conversation different disciplines to examine micro-level practices enacted by survivors and witnesses of mass violence. Taking these practices as an epistemological axis for the development of a theoretical and practice framework, and bringing together scholars from various regions of the world, collapses the South-North divide characteristic of the transitional justice field to date (wherein transitional justice scholars and practitioners are largely Western, and the countries and subjects of study are largely ‘non-Western’). Theoretically then, this workshop is an important challenge to the dominance of transitional justice by Western scholarship, and a critical advancement in the study of the micro-level processes and performances in the field of transitional justice.

This exploratory workshop features two public events and four private working sessions. It will work towards the publication of a Special Issue of the International Journal of Transitional Justice, will develop the Liu Institute’s for Global Issues’ Transitional Justice Network, and will lay a strong foundation for the development of a Peter Wall Major Thematic Grant.

Early Career Scholars, Pilar Riano-Alcala, 2005

Pilar Riaño-Alcalá

Co-principal Investigator Awards

International Research Roundtables, Erin Baines, 2017

Erin Baines
Pilar Riaño-Alcalá

Memory and Civic Responsibility During and After Mass Violence
Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Pilar Riaño-Alcalá, School of Social Work, UBC; Dr. Erin Baines, Liu Institute for Global Issues, UBC

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