Pilar Riaño-Alcalá is a professor at the Social Justice Institute and co-lead of the Memory and Justice Research Stream. She is an anthropologist and interdisciplinary scholar. Her research interests are on historical memory and the lived experience of violence in the afterlives of mass violence, the ethnography of living traces of memory and social repair; oralities and sound memory and social practice art. Pilar also has an interest in exploring the politics of knowledge and epistemic justice through the use of emplaced and creative research methodologies that draw on other knowledges and that centrally locate action and change in knowledge production. She is currently working on three projects, Transformative Memory: An International Network (with Erin Baines, UBC); Exhumations and Reburial in Colombia (with the Committee of Victims of the Middle Atrato River) and Sacred Responsibilities to Water. Indigenous Knowledge Exchanges, Canada-Colombia (with Aimée Craft, University of Ottawa).
Pilar is the author of “Dwellers of Memory. Youth and Violence in Medellin, Colombia” (Transaction Publishers, 2006, ebook Routledge, 2017) and “Poniendo Tierra de por medio. Migracion forzada de colombianos en Colombia, Ecuador y Canada (Corporación Región and UBC, 2008) and is currently working on the book manuscript, “In the Interstices of War and Peace: Memory and Social Repair in Colombia.” Her articles have appeared in Memory Studies, the International Journal of Transitional Justice, Refugee Survey Quarterly, Estudios Politicos, among others. With Natalia Quiceno, she is the editor of the Special Issue, “To Think with the River: Political Action and Trajectories of Life and Death in the Atrato” (Revista Colombiana de Antropología, 2020); with Erin Baines of the Special Issue “Transitional Justice and the Everyday” (International Journal of Transitional Justice, 2012), and with Catherine Le Grand and Luis van Isschot the Special Issue “Land, Memory and Justice: Challenges for Peace” (Canadian Journal of Latin America and Caribbean Studies, 2017). She coordinated the publication of “Remembering and Narrating Conflict. Resources for doing historical memory work” (2013) and co-created with Maria Luisa Morena and Weilder Guerra the multimedia publication “Stories with GPS. A Mythic and Historic Geography of La Guajira.”
For over twenty years, she has collaborated with public performance artist Suzanne Lacy on the public art project “The Skin of Memory” and related installations (Yerbabuena Center for the Arts and MOMA, 2019; the 8th Floor Gallery of the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation, New York, 2018; AD&A Museum at UC Santa Barbara, 2017; and Museo de Antioquia, Art Biennale, 2011).
As a public intellectual, Pilar has conducted extensive research and expert work in non-academic settings with various community-based organizations (Corporación Región, Medellin, Justice and Reconciliation Project, Uganda, the Committee for the Rights of the Victims, Choco) and in the context of peace building and historical memory work in Colombia. She was appointed as a researcher of the Historical Memory Group (2008-2013), a research group comprising researchers and experts that was tasked under the Colombian Law of Peace and Justice with producing a report on the origins and causes of the armed conflict in Colombia. She was an advisor to the Museum of Historical Memory of Colombia (2015-2019) for the development of its conceptual guidelines and script.
2021 Riaño-Alcalá, P. Stories that Claim: Justice Narratives and Testimonial Practices Among the Wayuu. Anthropological Quarterly. In Print.
2020 Riaño-Alcalá, P. and R. Chaparro. Singing the River’s Suffering: Memory, Poetics and Political Action of the Cantadoras of the Middle Atrato in Choco / Cantando el sufrimiento del río. Memoria, poética y acción política de las cantadoras del Medio Atrato. Revista Colombiana de Antropología, 56 (2): 79-110
2020 *Riaño-Alcalá, P and N. Quiceno. Presences, sensibilities and everyday politics of dwelling in the Atrato /Presencias, sensibilidades y políticas cotidianas del habitar en el Atrato. Revista Colombiana de Antropología, 56(2): 7-17
2020 Riaño, P. Orjuela, C. Quiceno, N and J. Valencia. Dignificar la vida y la muerte: Entierro colectivo en medio de la persistencia de la guerra en Bojayá, Colombia. Dossier “Verdad, Justicia y Memoria en America Latina.” LASA Forum 51:1: 14-19
2018, Hate, Anti Immigrant/Anti Refugee Attitudes and Sanctuary Cities. Perspectives. Newsletter of the BC Association of Social Workers. Vol 40(1): 4-5.
2005, Riaňo, P. Los talleres de la memoria con población desplazada en Colombia [Memory Workshops with Internally Displaced Populations in Colombia]”. Historia, Antropologia y Fuentes Orales [History, Anthropology and Oral Sources]. 34: 81 – 96.
2003, Riaňo, P. The Narrative Routes of Fear’. Women & Environment, 58/59, 31 – 34.
2001, Riaño, P. Por qué, a pesar de tanta mierda, este barrio es poder? Historias locales a la luz nacional’. Revista Colombiana de Antropología. 36, 50 – 83. Indexed journal.
2021, Comité por los derechos de las víctimas [Committee for Victims’ Rights] in collaboration with Riaño-Alcalá, Pilar; Quiceno, Natalia and Camila, Orjuela. 2021. The Dead of Bojaya are our Dead. Exhumations, Identification and Accompaniment in Bojayá, Chocó [In Spanish]. Comité por los derechos de las víctimas: Medellín. (60% research, concept and writing).
2018, Riaño, P and M. Bello. Museo Nacional de la Memoria: Un lugar para el encuentro [The National Museum of Memory: A place of encounter]. Bogotá: Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica.
2013, Bello, M; Suarez, A; Gonzalez, F. Riaño, P; Uprinmy, R, Sánchez, L. Basta Ya. Colombia: Memorias de Guerra y Dignidad [Enough already. War Memories and Dignity]. Final Report of the Historical Memory Commission. Bogota: Centro Nacional de Memoria Historica. 2013 (25%)
2011, Villa M. I; Riaño-Alcalá, P; Sánchez, A. (Rapporteurs), Jaramillo, Ana; Bello, Martha N. and Gonzalez, S. (Co-rapporteurs). The Invisble Traces of the War. Forced Displacement in Comuna 13 of Medellin. A Report by the Historical Memory Group of the National Commission of Reparation and Reconciliation (Colombia). Bogotá: Taurus, 2011. 332 pages. In Spanish. (50%)
2019, Riaño-Alcalá, Pilar and Erika Ono. Trajectories of Life and Belonging in the Neighbourhood Houses of Metro Vancouver. In Yan, M and S. Lauer, eds. A Place-based Solution to Urban Disconnection: Neighbourhood Houses in Metro Vancouver. Vancouver: UBC Press. In print.
2017, Riaño-Alcalá, P and S. Lacy. Skins of Memory: Art, Civic Pedagogy, and Social Reconstruction. In Kester, G. and B. Kelley (eds.). Collective Situations: Readings in Contemporary Latin American Art, 1995–2010. Duke University Press, pp. 203-219. (70%)
2014, Riaño-Alcalá, P and M. Villa. Forced migration of Colombians: a relational perspective. In L. Rivera-Sánchez and F. Lozano-Ascencio (eds.), The Practice of Research on Migration and Mobilities, SpringerBriefs in Environment, Security, Development and Peace 14, 77-100 (90%)
2013, Riaño-Alcalá, P. Memories: the Voices of the Survivors. In Basta Ya. Colombia: Memorias de Guerra y Dignidad. Informe General Grupo de Memoria Historica. Bogota: Centro Nacional de Memoria Historica. 2013, pp. 328-387
2021, Senior Fellow. Maria Sibylla Merian Center for Advanced Latin American Studies (CALAS), Univeristy of Guadalajara, Mexico and Bielefeld University, Germany. January – December, 2021.
2019, Academic Writing fellow at the Bellagio Center, Italy, March 20th, 2019 to April 17th, 2019. Rockefeller Foundation
2009-2015, Faculty Fellow in Residence; Liu Institute for Global Issues, UBC.
Pilar Riaño-Alcalá is a professor at the Social Justice Institute and co-lead of the Memory and Justice Research Stream. She is an anthropologist and interdisciplinary scholar. Her research interests are on historical memory and the lived experience of violence in the afterlives of mass violence, the ethnography of living traces of memory and social repair; oralities and sound memory, and social practice art. Pilar also is interested in exploring the politics of knowledge and epistemic justice through the use of emplaced and creative research methodologies that draw on other knowledges and centrally locate action and change in knowledge production. Pilar is the author of “Dwellers of Memory. Youth and Violence in Medellin, Colombia” (Transaction Publishers, 2006, ebook Routledge, 2017) and currently working on a book manuscript on Memory and Social Repair. Her articles have appeared in Memory Studies, the International Journal of Transitional Justice, Revista Colombiana de Antropología, Refugee Survey Quarterly, Estudios Politicos among others.
She is currently a Senior Fellow at The Maria Sibylla Merian Center for Advanced Latin American Studies, CALAS.