Symbolic reparations and their role in rebuilding societies

Human rights violations in Latin America have led the Interamerican Court to demand that governments provide reparations to victims. This now includes “Symbolic reparations,” along with material restitutions. Here is an opportunity to include survivors and their families in the work of creating a culture that can respond to the Court’s demand for “no repetition” of abuses. Participatory practices, especially in education, hold out hope for co-constructing a sustainable peace, because “restoring” the conditions that led to violence will prepare new outbreaks.

To discuss this issue and the importance of symbolic reparation in the processes of peace and justice, CONNECTAS and Cultural Agents held a virtual meeting on December 10th, 2018 with Salvador del Solar (former Minister of Culture of Peru). Included were José Falconi (Director of Cultural Agents), and Prof. Doris Sommer (Faculty-Director of Cultural Agents).

Visit the following link to learn more about the discussion.

Watch the discussion on this link.




The Cultural Agents Initiative has organized a consortium to develop guidelines and recommendations for the Inter-American Court on how to interpret symbolic reparations in Colombia. Members of the consortium are from Harvard University, Boston University, the University of Connecticut, Brandeis, and the Universidad Rio Piedras de Puerto Rico. This group works closely with Colombian legal scholar Yolanda Sierra of Arte y Derecho and her team in Bogotá.


Members of the group joined Yolanda and legal scholars from the Universidad Externado de Colombia for a conference on the role of art and culture as mechanisms of symbolic reparations on July 21 and 22, 2015. For more information on the conference, please see:

Symbolic Reparations Executive Committee: 

Doris Sommer (Ira and Jewell Williams Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and African and African American Studies and Director, Cultural Agents Initiative)                                        

José Falconi (PhD, Fellow at the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University and Director of Publications, Cultural Agents Initiative)

Marco Abraca (Professor of Human Rights, Universidad Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico)

Members of the Symbolic Reparations Consortium: 

Robin Greeley (Associate Professor of Art History, University of Connecticut)

Michael Orwicz (Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Humanities, University of Connecticut)

Ana María Reyes (Assistant Professor of Latin American Art History, Boston University

Fernando Rosenberg (Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies and Comparative Literature)