Invisible power and visible everyday resistance in the violent Colombian Pacific

Published on 10 March 2017

This article presents an action research process which opened up dialogues about power, citizenship and agency among social activists and peacebuilding groups in the violent context of urban Buenaventura, Colombia. Adopting a situated, micro-level, engaged action research approach, the process reached beyond what western power theory calls ‘visible’ and ‘hidden’ power, to uncover rich accounts of how long-standing everyday violence, of direct, structural and symbolic kinds, shapes meanings and defines what is acceptable and possible. Insights on the myriad invisible ways in which violence inhibits, constrains or shapes perceptions and exercise of citizen agency – in short, violence-as-invisible-power – were matched by insights on the myriad ways in which social activists in the city respond to it. Such insights, brought to light by the locally embedded action research approach which specifically sought out local people’s perspectives and experience, reveal how violence-as-invisible-power re-shapes people’s subjectivity in ways that enable them collectively and individually to resist violence and build peace.


Rosemary McGee

Power and Popular Politics Cluster Lead

Publication details

McGee, Rosie


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