BA, History. National University of Colombia (2006). Bogotá, Colombia.
MA, Social Development Policies and Practices. The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (2013). Genève, Switzerland.

Biography

ALEJANDRA GAVIRIA SERNA works at the intersections of activism, art, scholarship and of policy, related to society’s rights to truth and memory and the Colombian conflict. Since 2006 she is a founder and member of the Colombian Movement H.I.J.O.S (Daughters and Sons for Identity and Justice against Forgetting and Silence) and MOVICE (Movement of Victims of State Crimes, a movement that brings together 200 organizations in Colombia working for the rights of victims).

Between 2009-2016 Alejandra was active in the Memory, Peace and Reconciliation Center of Bogota, the first governmental “museum” on memory as the Coordinator of the Research, Artistic, Communicative and Cultural Actions. She is a political advocacy advisor to the Colombian Network of Places of Memory which coordinates 24 places of memory in Colombia dedicated to the fulfillment of the right to the memory. Until coming to Canada to study the Ph.D., she worked in the recently created Colombian Truth Commission to design of their work plan and the development of methodologies and a strategy for the processes of Acknowledgement, Recognition, and Coexistence (three of the main goals of the Commission).

Over these years in her academic, professional, personal and activist dimensions, she has participated in different projects including: protest campaigns and pedagogical programs about conflict and peace building, human rights and historical memory public policies, curatorship and production of museum exhibitions, visual and artistic projects and grassroots truth-telling initiatives.

In the context of the work and the findings of the Colombian Truth Commission, her research seeks to explore how grassroots initiatives that work creatively and artistically with memory produce shared knowledge, contribute to social comprehension, and generate people’s creative ways to survive and live more livable lives and that enable processes of social reconstruction in diverse instances of mass violence and their aftermath.

Nowadays, she is the Project Coordinator of the Transformative Memory Partnership Development Grant, co-led by Dr. Riaño and Dr. Erin Baines. The partnership fosters an international network of scholars, artists, and community-based memory workers that work in Canada, Colombia, Indonesia, Uganda, and Perú.

In the context of the work and the findings of the Colombian Truth Commission and focusing on grassroots initiatives that work creatively and artistically with memory, I will analyze their potential to contribute to social comprehension and to the critical analysis and possible transformation of diverse instances of mass violence and their aftermath. The analysis will be centered on two key dimensions: a) the processes through which local communities develop collective and shared knowledge of their experiences of armed conflict and; b) the arts of existence – people’s creative ways to survive and live more livable lives and that enable processes of social reconstruction. The research addresses the following questions: 1) how do creative and artistic grassroots practices contribute to the processes of socialization, critical reflection, and social acknowledgment of the contents of TC report? and 2) under what conditions do these practices become languages ​​of transformative memory?

  • Gaviria-Serna, Alejandra. (2014). The streets also speak: memory and public space. Bogotá: Center for Memory, Peace and Reconciliation.
    Author, principal researcher and coordinator of the editorial project.
  • Gaviria-Serna, Alejandra; Calderón, Omer; Santodomingo, Pavel (2015). Patriotic Union: Images of a dream. Bogotá: Standing Committee for the Defense of Human Rights.
    Author, principal investigator, and coordinator of the editorial project.
  • Gaviria-Serna, Alejandra, et al. (2009-2016). Cartography: Bogotá, City, Memory. Bogotá: Center for Memory, Peace and Reconciliation.
    Co-author, principal researcher and coordinator of the editorial project.
  • Gaviria-Serna, Alejandra; et al. (2015). Life stories in the City of the Dead. Bogotá: Center for Memory, Peace and Reconciliation.
    Co-author and coordinator of the editorial project.
  • Gaviria-Serna, Alejandra;  Robayo, Ricardo.. (2012). “Paths through memory” Audiovisual Installation.  Project won the Visual Anthropology Award “Nina S. Friedeman” of the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History.
    Research, design, production and realization.
-Graduate Global Leadership Fellowship to study a PhD in the Social Justice. Institute at the University of British Columbia (2018).
-Honorable mention by The Observatory on Latin America (OLA). The New School and the Universidad Nacional de San Martín–Argentina in the framework of the President Néstor Kirchner Fellowship (2015-2016).
-Scholarship of Avina Stiftung (Avina Foundation) to study Master in Social Development Policies and Practices. Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneve-Suisse (2012-2013).
-Visual Anthropology Nina S. Friedemann’s Grant by Colombian Anthropology and History Institute-ICANH (2010).
-Scholarship by the German Cooperation Agency INWENT to study the InternationalCourse: Historical Memory and Peace Culture. Lima-Peru, El Salvador-San Salvador (2009).