Non-violent self-organization initiatives in a violent context: The Indigenous Guards in north of Cauca, Colombia

The biggest indigenous movement in Colombia is located in the Cauca region, formed by many indigenous organizations as the Cauca Regional Indigenous Council (CRIC) and the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN). Having struggled for political recognition for more than 40 years, the movement has achieved land rights, territorial autonomy, and political participation at regional and national level.

However, since 2001, the conflict between illegal armies and the government has affected the indigenous in Cauca more than ever. The most affected area is in the north, where ACIN members have developed initiatives to survive. This research aim to understand how ACIN members organize themselves through everyday interactions in a context of conflict, resulting in what they call: non-violent initiatives, and how processes of group identity construction take place and play a role in these initiatives. The everyday practices and communications of the Indigenous Guard are framed as a non-violent initiative, as they do not use any guns to control the territory. Three Zonal Indigenous Guards will be studied.

I will start from a Complex Dynamic System perspective to study the interactions among ACIN members, indigenous guards and with others, and the consequences of these interactions for wider structures and developments. The following concepts will be used: self-organization, conflict, framing, interaction, group identity construction and practices. Using an interpretative approach and ethnographic methods such as participant observation and shadowing technique, fieldwork will be conducted in three phases: first phase working as a communication professional in the Casa de Pensamiento, the research branch of ACIN; second phase conducting multisite ethnography and the third phase, shadowing technique will be applied. This research will generate insights about conflict escalation and de-escalation and will be relevant for the field of conflict management