Dynamics and militants of international mobilization: from local contexts to cosmopolitan arenas. The Colombian case

Project: Research Project

Project Details


This project has as its central object of study the formation of "causes" on the international scene. The objective is to analyze, from a series of cases related to the Colombian reality, how a "cause", initially constituted in a local context, can come to appear in "cosmopolitan arenas" through transnational mobilizations.

The term "cause" is understood here in a double sense, since those who champion a cause (that is, a claim), also do so by creating an interpretative device that provides explanations about the state of a situation or the evolution of a process. It is also worth clarifying that transnational mobilizations are considered here under a wide spectrum of possible figures, from classic alerts and denunciations, to controversies and polemics, going through different forms of criticism.

Five mobilizations have been defined to be dealt with in the project: (a) the mobilization of a Colombian NGO to form a solidarity committee with the displaced communities of Bajo and Medio Atrato in the French associative milieu; (b) the mobilization of various NGOs to coordinate, within a common platform called “Paz Colombia”, a political work criticizing “Plan Colombia” on the international scene; (c) the transnational mobilizations to obtain the release of Ingrid Betancourt and the other people kidnapped in Colombia; (d) the set of mobilizations whose fundamental objective has been to prevent the signing and ratification of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Colombia and the United States; (e) The mobilizations of indigenous organizations to highlight the violations of the economic, social and cultural rights of indigenous peoples and Afro-descendant communities. All the forms of transnational mobilization that will be discussed in this study are related either to the situation of violence in Colombia, or to scenarios that seem to put populations located in Colombian territory at risk. All the cases studied also have another common characteristic: they are mobilizations of sectors of “civil society” that can be classified as experiences of “parallel diplomacy”.

The different case studies seek to answer a series of essential questions: For what reasons do the different actors, when defending a cause, set out to break through between the local and the universal? How do the actors, and the causes they support, transcend the local-national scene and participate in the emergence of “cosmopolitan arenas”? What role does the media play in this process? What strategies are deployed by militants to penetrate media spaces? In what way does the media coverage of a cause contribute to the opening of “cosmopolitan arenas”? To what arguments do the militants of the different causes appeal to penetrate and try to remain in said arenas? What tests must pass, both the actors and the plots, to be judged as acceptable in those scenarios? Do these tests rest more on the content of the arguments or on the actors who support them? What time horizons are contained in the arguments and diagnoses of the problematic situations carried out by the militants of a cause? What are the modalities to evoke, appeal and convene the “International Community” in these processes?

The object of study of this project will be approached with the approach of "pragmatic" sociology. This means that the analysis of the cases will be carried out taking into account and taking seriously what the actors who mobilize to defend a cause say and do. Special attention will also be given to the successive transformations of the set of actors and arguments that are part of the different mobilization processes analyzed. It is a question, then, of studying the multiple forms that disputes take over time, from simple conversation to collective mobilization, passing through the instituted processes of public debates.

In addition to data collection through interviews and field observations (very suitable for studying the practices and biographical trajectories of the actors), this project will use methodologies for the collection and systematic analysis of large bodies of texts ( indispensable source for the identification of the transformations of the actors and the arguments in time). The project then intends to transfer to Colombia technologies that have been developed in France for the description and analysis of large masses of textual data (press articles, reports of all kinds, documents or official speeches). These are new research protocols in the social sciences that are supported by a set of computer programs (Prósper
Effective start/end date2/1/0912/31/12

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Main Funding Source

  • National


  • Bogotá D.C.


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