Female (ex)combatants in Colombia: inhabiting ideological, geographic, and embodied borderlands

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Abstract

In this chapter I explore the mobilisation of politico-mobilised Colombian women into insurgent organisations in the 1970s and 1980s. Colombian female ex-combatants’ crossing from civilian life to life as guerrilla members is a queering of the margins imposed by both the dominant socio-politic-economic order and the gender order. The insurgent organisations are seen here as a borderland, a liminal space, where traditional gender identities were negotiated and reshaped to enable women and men from different ethnic and class backgrounds to fight for a common cause. Female (ex)guerrillas border crossing is three-fold: geographical as to become guerrillas they must leave their homes to join the guerrilla ranks, political as they become members of insurgent organisations fighting the state, the socioeconomic and political order and it is embodied, because becoming a guerrilla entails transforming their female civilian bodies into warrior bodies. modelled on a masculine ideal incarnated in the Che Guevara. I conclude by looking at female ex-combatant’s crossing back from armed insurgency into civilian life after laying down the weapons. I argue that during the process of crossing back female (ex)combatants (re)encountered the traditional gender order that had been temporarily put on hold in the guerrillas. But while some women had to silence their past as members of politico-military organisations to ‘reintegrate’ in Colombian society, others made of this transition a transformational space and now, almost 25 years after the laying down of weapons, are embracing their multiple and sometimes contradictory identities.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGender, Sexuality and Identities of the Borderlands
Subtitle of host publicationQueering the Margings
EditorsSuzanne Clisby
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

Publication series

NameRoutlegde Advances in Feminist Studies and Intersectionality