Abrasive Reconciliation: Negotiating El Salvador’s Transition to Democracy

Spencer Orey : Anthropology

Mentor: Professor Lawrence Cohen, Anthropology

Spencer will travel to El Salvador this summer and conduct anthropological fieldwork focusing on the not-for-profit organization Pro-Búsqueda. Focusing primarily on reuniting children “disappeared” in the Salvadoran civil war with their biological families, workers at Pro-Búsqueda have not only helped to advocate processes of justice and repatriation but have also played an important role in lobbying for reparations legislation as well. Using ethnographic methods, Spencer will collect data through first-hand participant observation and interviews in order to examine the importance of finding and reuniting children in reconstructing civil society and engaging social trauma in El Salvador. Much work and scholarly literature has focused solely upon the immediate aftermath of the civil war conflict, and Spencer hopes that his fieldwork will provide a critical study of ongoing post-conflict social reconciliation.