This book is about understanding how former combatants come home after war, and how their political lives are refracted by the war and the experience of coming home itself. In particular, it captures the political mobilization among former combatants as they come home from three very different types of war: civil war (Colombia), war of independence (Namibia), and interstate war (United States involvement in the Vietnam War). The book provides a much-needed long-term perspective on peace. It also demonstrates the artificial division between literatures across the Global North and Global South, and demonstrates how these literatures speak to each other just as the three cases speak to each other. The novel use of interviews to document life histories and the inside perspective they provide also give a unique insight into the former combatants’ own perspectives on the process of coming home and their sense of political voice. This book is not about peacebuilding in the sense of interventions. Rather, it examines peace as a process through studying the lived experiences of individuals, displaying the dynamics of political mobilization after disarmament across time in the lives of fifty former combatants. The book demonstrates how the process of coming home shapes their political commitment and identity, and how the legacy of war is a powerful reminder in the lives of these former combatants long after the end of the war.
cooperation) between them, and between some of the questions they are asking – for example, questions about the modalities of humanitarian aid; about how, and under what conditions, studies are conducted; about the roles and capacities required of people who serve as intermediaries between the investigators (analysts and practitioners) and the subjects of – or local actors in – conflicts (e.g. current members of armed groups, formercombatants, citizen activists and movement spokespeople); about gathering and evaluating witness accounts; and about how difficult it is to
This chapter scrutinizes the role played by fellow formercombatants in the lives of the research participants after coming home from war. The experiences, as well as the political meaning, of coming home and being a veteran (in the sense of a political identity) are all mediated through the social networks which surround them. This chapter demonstrates what meaning is attached to the network of other veterans and what role these networks play and have played in their lives as understood by the formercombatants themselves. These networks
Wars have a multitude of personal consequences, but they also have societal consequences as a result of the political lives that develop in their wake. Just as the war and coming home shape the politics of these formercombatants in multiple ways, these formercombatants shape larger processes of maintaining peace, politics, statebuilding, welfare systems, and democracy. This book sought to depict an insider's understanding of the experience of living politics after war, and how this process is understood by individual formercombatants across
Independently of the path that each one of us decided to follow, or the different actions we took during the militant period, our way of thinking and acting has a trace of the times when we were militants.
Joaquin, C6, a former M-19 guerilla
Life after war is intrinsically political for formercombatants. As wars end, societies and individuals face a period of transition, and former
This chapter turns to the political activity the formercombatants have engaged in after war. Their political mobilization has waxed and waned over the years, and their veteran identity as well as veteran networks play a role in this dynamic. As such, the chapter tries to display how formercombatants connect their experience of war, and of coming home, to their subsequent political mobilization. The chapter shows how experiences covered in the earlier chapters – such as coming home, questions of identity, relationship with the state, and
This chapter depicts how the process of coming home from war is understood and experienced among the various formercombatants interviewed for this book. The idea of coming home, and the process of coming home, are in part metaphorical, as not everyone moves physically when they return home. This process also needs to be unpacked and problematized as the division between war and peace in individual lives is not clear-cut. This chapter is a starting point for such a discussion. Coming home can also be marked by a particular moment which is key
What does it signify to these formercombatants to be a “veteran”? How is it filled with meaning and how is it understood politically? This chapter shows how people's experience as formercombatants is turned into a veteran identity; the way that veteran identity is formulated contains an impetus for political action. The chapter goes on to examine how this identity is constructed by the formercombatants themselves. This is central to capturing an insider's perspective of how these formercombatants understand and depict their own political
an important backdrop to the rest of the book, particularly in relation to any similarities in the political lives of the formercombatants.
First, Namibia. The conflict and war there were long. After the First World War, Namibia (then South West Africa) had been administered by South Africa, and then after the Second World War South Africa implemented apartheid rule in Namibia. There was resistance to South African rule, due in part to the system of migrant labor, and in April 1960 exiled resistance leaders (including Sam Nujoma) established
transformation and other work in which former
conflict-related prisoners engage. As Peter Shirlow and Kieran McEvoy have noted:
The range of work in which politically motivated former prisoners are
or have been involved includes: direct service such as counselling and training for
ex-prisoners and their families; capacity building in local communities; ex-prisoner
self-help initiatives including conflict related tourist programmes delivered by formercombatants; community based anti-poverty and anti