Kate Vieira

Position title: Resident Fellow (2020-2021)

Susan J. Cellmer Distinguished Chair in Literacy, Curriculum and Instruction, UW-Madison

Woman with light skin, brown curly hair, and brown eyes wearing a blazer speaking into a microphone.

Writing for Peace in Colombia: A Literacy Ethnography

In the wake of the historic 2016 agreement to end 52 years of deadly conflict, Colombian communities are working to sustain a fragile peace. While these efforts include large-scale government programs, of equal importance are grassroots initiatives involving the arts—specifically the literary arts. According to Colombian poet Juana María Echeverri, in a context in which war has colonized everyday language, community literary practices, such as composing rap, poetry, and testimonios, participate in “writing a new page of Colombia’s history.” But how? Based on participatory ethnographic work conducted from 2018-2019, this book seeks to provide a grounded model of how communities infuse writing with the power to build peace. Specifically, the project details the writing-for-peace practices of five literary groups in a community in Caldas, Colombia: literary writers; youth poets; an intergenerational music/poetry collective; activist writing teachers; and authors of a writing-for-peace book and board game for public distribution. In doing so, it makes a contextualized argument for expressive writing as a crucial technology of social transformation.

Kate Vieira is the Susan J. Cellmer Distinguished Chair in Literacy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her monographs include American by Paper: How Documents Matter in Immigrant Literacy (University of Minnesota Press, 2016) and Writing for Love and Money: How Migration Drives Literacy Learning in Transnational Families (Oxford University Press, 2019). With Jhoana Patiño she co-edited Paz: Escribiendo un Corazón Común (Ojo con la Gota de TINta Press, 2019). She is a recipient of a Fulbright Scholar Award (2018-2019), a Spencer/National Academy of Education Postdoctoral Fellowship (2015-2016), a CCCC Chair’s Research Initiative Grant (2017), and the Donald Murray Prize for Creative Nonfiction (2018).