Violence as a symptom: The case of Colombia

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Abstract

With a view to developing certain arguments put forward in previous works, my intention in this article is to approach the persistence of violence in Colombia as if it were a symptom. By symptom, I mean a traumatic impossibility, an enduring rupture that resists symbolization, at the intersection of the social and the symbolic. Examples of this symptomatology include the implacable antagonisms between rural supporters of the Liberal and Conservative parties during the period known as La Violencia; between paramilitaries and guerrilla groups, which was a constant for more than 30 years; and, more recently, between those on either side of today’s clashes over the peace process that was finally agreed with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) in 2016. In each of these three cases, there appears to be an impossible dynamic between two binary terms, each preventing the other from realizing its self-identity. In contrast to my previous work, where I examined the notion of the symptom from a Lacanian perspective, in this article, I will explore it through a series of metaphors or tropes that have been in common usage in Colombia at different times, understanding them as survivors of past events, carrying memory into the present. These tropes bear a heavy symbolic weight, as they serve to encapsulate and articulate emotions, anxieties, and fears in relation to antagonistic groups or political enemies. Although they belong to different periods in history, and as such their meanings are distinct, what they share is a capacity to crystallize the content of a conceptualization of a hated and feared other that must be eliminated. It is in this respect that they can be described as symptoms of a hatred for which the only outlet is violence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages13
JournalViolence: An international journal
Volume0
Issue number0
StatePublished - 2020

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