The Role of Social Networks in Memory Formation and the Social Reintegration of Ex-combatants

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The Role of Social Networks in Memory Formation and the Social Reintegration of Ex-combatants

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This doctoral dissertation examines the social reintegration of ex-combatants with a focus on the role of social networks and the formation of collective memory. The case is that of FARC ex-guerrillas in Colombia. Building on the work of Maurice Halbwachs ([1952] 1992), it understands memory as evolving over time by present circumstances and interpersonal interactions. The work engages with the focus on groups in Collective Memory scholarship and infuses insights from social network theory and relational sociology. Empirically, the work is based on interviews and participant observation in Colombia. Settings include two cities and two rural areas. Following a review of literature and a presentation of methods and data, chapter four analyzes the role of space in shaping interactions. Chapter five examines the role of an education initiative in fostering relationships between civilians and FARC ex-combatants. Chapter six discusses the importance of incorporating a life course perspective in the social reintegration of ex-combatants. The process of reintegration presents an opportunity to examine how collective memories transform through new forms of interactions. These chapters show how a civilian's understanding of the conflict changes by interacting with ex-combatants. It similarly examines how the ex-combatant perspective changes. The relevance of the findings goes beyond the specific setting, as this dissertation shows for an increasingly polarized world, how it is important to understand the way in which individuals’ perspectives of conflicts are formed and transformed.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. ---2023. Major: Sociology. Advisor: Joachim Savelsberg. 1 computer file (PDF); xiv, 1961 pages.

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Soto, Michael. (2023). The Role of Social Networks in Memory Formation and the Social Reintegration of Ex-combatants. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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