Plotting Colombian emblematic memory, the name I gave to my CHI project, was meant to produce a digital tool that could help peace-building efforts in Colombia. In order to make that possible, one thing was especially required: to have a clear philosophy behind the kind of peace-building intervention the tool could foster.
The Colombian society is going through a post-conflict setting that is not fulfilling most expectations behind the peace deal the Colombian government and the FARC guerrilla signed in 2016. While horrific forms of violence keep alive under new actors and formats, transitional justice institutions do what they can to provide justice, reparation, and a collective reconciliation. For instance, the Colombian Truth Commission, an official organization with the task of offering general clarification on human rights violations in the country, their causes, and how they affected the lives of victims, is launching its final report after three years of research in two months. Likewise, the Special Jurisdiction of Peace, an exceptional court judging crimes against humanity in the Colombian inner armed conflict, is studying cases of national relevance to fight against impunity and provide victims with proper reparations. However, the State cannot build peace by relying exclusively on institutions and bureaucrats.
Civil society implication in peace-building has been acknowledged as critical in every post-conflict context. There is a strong relationship between active civil society and successful post conflict settings, and this application is meant to be a tool that peacebuilders use. This application is born from the very basic idea suggesting democracy is built over the acknowledgment of the other. The other, in this case, is an abstract manifestation of difference that in each and every context has different concrete shapes. In post-conflict settings, the other is that person or group of individuals who happen to share a framework of meaning that allows them to interpret the past differently than I and the ones like me. In the presence of contrasting interpretations of reality, conflict can be latent or active, but if a conflict is going to be solved constructively, it must be solved through dialogue. Memories for dialogue (Memorias Pal diálogo) is meant to help people understand the place they come from when thinking about the conflict, and also understand there are other places where people are coming from when thinking about the same issue.
The philosophy I mention is the backbone of the application I am presenting. It is a Likert scale survey that measures two axes simultaneously: one related to the State’s responsibility for human rights violations (Y), and another related to the explanations people give to the causes of the conflict (X). The result of the Likert scale is graphed in a Cartesian diagram with four possible outcomes: heroic memory, crossed memory, tragic memory, and indifferent memory. Once the individual taking the survey finds out the result, they will be able to check for the model of emblematic memory he is coming from. The idea is everyone can have a conversation about their ideas of the past by understanding they are coming from specific places; therefore, understanding there may be different models to understand the same problems.
Under the proper guidance, people using the app will have meaningful conversations about the Colombian past, where curiosity about where the others are coming from will foster mutual understanding and probably change and growth. It is important people understand this application is not meant to build parties. This application is meant to foster curiosity for other models to understand the Colombian inner armed conflict, and its legacies. Everyone using it should know using it is only the first step into a big democratic process of peace-building.