Robert A. Karl
Robert Karl teaches modern Latin American history. He is broadly interested in the interaction between conflict, peace, and society. His research aims to recover the stories of how Colombians experienced and made sense of three key problems in contemporary history: violence, development (particularly inequality), and impunity. He is the author of Forgotten Peace: Reform, Violence, and the Making of Contemporary Colombia (translated into Spanish as La paz olvidada: Letrados, políticos, campesinos y el surgimiento de las FARC en la formación de la Colombia contemporánea) and is currently working on two book projects about the histories of impunity and inequality in modern Colombia.
Karl's book, Forgotten Peace (University of California Press, 2017; Spanish translation, Librería Lerner, 2018), examines how Colombians grappled with “violence” as an intellectual and a practical problem during a nearly decade-long process of democratization and social reform. Eventual disillusionment with these reformist experiments in the 1960s generated key components of the reputation for violence that would define Colombia over the remainder of the century: the formation of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) insurgency, and the concept of La Violencia. By highlighting the lived experience of politics and development in post-1945 Colombia, Forgotten Peace presents a sweeping reinterpretation of both the origins of the FARC and the dominant place of “violence” in modern Latin America. The book additionally provides a Colombian vantage on global processes of democratic transition, development, and memory formation in the 1950s and ‘60s.
Two interactive maps accompany the book:
Karl holds holds an A.B. from Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. At Princeton, he is a Faculty Associate at the Program in Latin American Studies and the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, and is also involved with the Center for Digital Humanities. He has received fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, Fulbright Colombia, the Eisenhower and Johnson presidential libraries, and the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard.