Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 2023

Legados De Guerra: Violencia, Ecologías y Parentesco

Legados De Guerra reflects on the deep wounds left by violence many years after it has been suffered. The focus is the lives of children born from wartime rape. Kimberly Theidon analyzes the experiences of mothers and communities to offer a gendered theory of harm and repair. Drawing on ethnographic research in Peru and Colombia, she considers the multiple settings in which conception, pregnancy, and childbirth take place. Theidon analyzes the impact of violence on lives, bodies and ecologies, and shows the interdependence of all forms of life. The result is a critique of policy makers, governments, and humanitarian organizations that, in their post-conflict justice efforts, often adopt an anthropocentric approach steeped in liberal legalism.

Oxford University Press, 2023

Challenging ConceptionS: Children Born of Wartime Rape and Sexual Exploitation

Governments, international organizations, and international laws and courts increasingly pay attention to conflict-related sexual violence. The core of the UN Women Peace and Security Agenda is stopping conflict-related sexual violence against women. Yet, with over two decades of grappling with conflict-related sexual violence and its legacies, there is only passing mention of the potential and obvious outcomes of sexual violence: pregnancy, abortion, forced maternity. What do we know about children conceived through acts of sexual abuse? What are their life chances? How do they exist with their mothers and within their families? In this collection we hear from the leading researchers and practitioners from around the globe, each of whom has spent decades working with women who survived wartime rape and with their children who were the result of that violence.

This ground-breaking collection explores the life cycles of children born of wartime rape across time and space. It shines light on why young people born of rape are or are not able rejoin their families and society in the post-conflict. It explores the different ways these children learn about their origins and how they, their families and societies react to that understanding. It reveals the local, national, and international actions of how children born of wartime rape and their families are positioned in society and how they strive to transcend this and position themselves as they move from abuse, marginalization and pain into belonging and justice.

Duke University Press, 2022

Legacies of WaR: Violence, Ecologies, and Kin

In Legacies of War Kimberly Theidon examines the lives of children born of wartime rape and the experiences of their mothers and communities to offer a gendered theory of harm and repair. Drawing on ethnographic research in postconflict Peru and Colombia, Theidon considers the multiple environments in which conception, pregnancy, and childbirth unfold. She reimagines harm by taking into account the impact of violence on individual people as well as on more-than-human lives, bodies, and ecologies, showing how wartime violence reveals the interdependency of all life. She also critiques policy makers, governments, and humanitarian organizations for their efforts at post-conflict justice, which frequently take an anthropocentric rights-based approach that is steeped in liberal legalism. Rethinking the intergenerational reach of war while questioning what counts as sexual and reproductive violence, Theidon calls for an explicitly feminist peace-building and post-conflict agenda that includes a full range of sexual and reproductive rights, including access to safe and affordable abortions.

This stunning and timely book is rightly disturbing, with its focus on sexual violence and the harm inflicted on women and their offspring, directly and indirectly, in Peru and Colombia. Kimberly Theidon has pulled together threads of apparently disparate events over time to reveal how reproductive violence impacts multiple environments, moving far beyond a woman’s womb. She brings formidable insights to this highly perturbing subject.”

— Margaret Lock, Marjorie Bronfman Professor Emerita, Departments of Social Studies of Medicine and of Anthropology, McGill University

University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012

Intimate Enemies: Violence and Reconciliation in Peru

In the aftermath of a civil war, former enemies are left living side by side — and often the enemy is a son-in-law, a godfather, an old schoolmate, or the community that lies just across the valley. Though the internal conflict in Peru at the end of the twentieth century was incited and organized by insurgent Senderistas, the violence and destruction were carried out not only by Peruvian armed forces but also by civilians. In the wake of war, any given Peruvian community may consist of ex-Senderistas, current sympathizers, widows, orphans, army veterans — a volatile social landscape. These survivors, though fully aware of the potential danger posed by their neighbors, must nonetheless endeavor to live and labor alongside their intimate enemies.

Drawing on years of research with communities in the highlands of Ayacucho, Kimberly Theidon explores how Peruvians are rebuilding both individual lives and collective existence following twenty years of armed conflict. Intimate Enemies recounts the stories and dialogues of Peruvian peasants and Theidon’s own experiences to encompass the broad and varied range of conciliatory practices: customary law before and after the war, the practice of arrepentimiento (publicly confessing one’s actions and requesting pardon from one’s peers), a differentiation between forgiveness and reconciliation, and the importance of storytelling to make sense of the past and recreate moral order. The micropolitics of reconciliation in these communities present an example of postwar coexistence that deeply complicates the way we understand transitional justice, moral sensibilities, and social life in the aftermath of war. Any effort to understand postconflict reconstruction must be attuned to devastation as well as to human tenacity for life.

A very important work for the fields of anthropology and human rights… Intimate Enemies is a unique, path-breaking ethnography of community responses to situations of extreme violence, of the clash of armed rebels seeking to overthrow the state and counterinsurgency soldiers.”

— Kay Warren, Brown University

Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, Second Edition 2009

Entre prójimos: el conflicto armado interno y la política de la reconciliación en el Perú

El Informe Final de la Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación en el Perú destacó que el mayor número de víctimas del conflicto armado interno en el país se produjo en el departamento de Ayacucho, y que dentro de ellas, predominaron largamente los campesinos quechua hablantes. La antropóloga médica Kimberly Theidon se adentró en las zonas rurales del norte y centro-sur de Ayacucho, donde estudió con siete comunidades marcadas profundamente por la violencia que sufrieron e infligieron durante los años de la violencia. Sin querer minimizar la brutalidad ejercida por las fuerzas armadas, su trabajo explora la participación civil en las matanzas. ¿Cómo es que la gente comenzaron a matar entre prójimos? ¿Cómo militarizaron y desmilitarizaron la vida cotidiana y las sujetividades? ¿Cómo han movilizado los mecanismos de la justicia comunal para castigar a los culpables y rehabilitarles? Finalmente, el libro ofrece un análisis de la micropolítica de la reconciliación que han elaborado entre enemigos íntimos, así contribuyendo a nuestro entendimiento de las secuelas de una guerra fratricida.