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The heart of the Trust After Betrayal project lies in Latin America, with the research questions driving its purpose developed after a combined equivalent of decades of research in the region. It extends, however, to other countries and conflicts in a dual acknowledgement: first, some qualities are shared among populations living in contexts marked by scarcity and insecurity. Second, that site-specific nuances lead to more generative theory and agile practice.

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A group of former FARC guerrillas and former victims of the internal armed conflict in Colombia form a grassroots initiative to return to the rural countryside of Caquetá, after their respective reintegrations and displacements deliver them to an informal housing settlement at the peri urban edges of the department’s capital city of Florencia. These individuals first came to know one another in the Fundación para la Reconciliación's School for Forgiveness and Reconciliation (ESPERE) in 2014 and overcame fear, mistrust, and various forms of insecurity in the years that followed. They now collaborate on initiatives from local income generation opportunities for single female heads of household to working towards a major land purchase to build an African Palm cooperative.




Site 1

The treatment clinic of Comunidad de Sinai in Sinaloa, Mexico, provides comprehensive rehabilitation for its male patients who suffer from a range of addictions and grapple with the events of their pasts. The multidisciplinary team works with the individuals and their families to recuperate their lives. 

Site 2

The fishing community of El Manglito in La Paz, Baja California Sur used to fish illegally in contra to sustainability quotas. In collaboration with a regional sustainability NGO they formed a cooperative to legalised their work and bring all fishermen in the community together with the goal of developing sustainable fishing methods and tourism.

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El Salvdor



ConTextos, El Salvador, leads the Pionero program with incarcerated youth formerly affiliated with the mara gangs. They supplement the state agencies responsible for preparing these young people for reinsertion into society by providing literacy education alongside pedagogies that promote rehabilitation and healing. In addition to supporting ongoing analysis, review, and collaboration with the Pionero professionals, Trust after Betrayal has created one Field Research Assistant role for one of the program graduates as a part of the participatory methodology of the program.




Trust after Betrayal collaborates with projects led by the Office of Military Affiliated Communites supported by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the Department of Defense, the State of Illinois, and Cook County. It analyzes military veteran transitions from active duty to civilian life with a focus on higher education and mental health and well-being. To do this, the project engages with programs such as the Department of Defense SkillBridge program and the Veterans Treatment Courts of the state of Illinois, among others.




Former affiliates of Al-Qaeda’s Somali-based branch, al Shabaab, (re)integrate into receiving communities marked by divisive clan politics; ongoing physical insecurity; fear, stigma, and discrimination; and acute conditions of scarcity and instability. More than any other site in this project, community acceptance of the individual features as a determining factor for their reintegration success. Trust after Betrayal Principal Investigator Erin McFee has conducted research with organizations facilitating these transitions to better understand how it is possible to build the trust and social relationships necessary for such acceptance when ongoing terrorist attacks, penetrating informant networks, and growing instability persist.





Being a country in the African Sahel region, Sudan is particularly vulnerable to the threatening effects of climate change on agriculture and pastoralism. Competition for water and fertile land together with political instability undermine attempts to improve human security in the country. Trust after Betrayal Principal Investigator Erin McFee consults with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to examine local interactions between changing livelihoods, mobility, migration, armed group tactics, and elite exploitation. The data gathered offers a novel perspective on the peculiar conflict dynamics emerging from the climate crisis. Moreover, McFee's approach stimulates evidence-based capacity building to manage associated risks in Sudanese communities.





© Luca Galuzzi / Wiki Commons

Libya is a frequent destination for those leaving neighbouring countries to seek economic opportunities or due to armed conflict and natural disasters. As migrants and displaced people converge in Libyan communities, the sustainability of potable water infrastructure is an urgent concern. In partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Trust after Betrayal Principal Investigator Erin McFee assesses familiar and emergent forms of violence related to water resource management in both rural and urban Libya. Based on this, she proposes grassroots-led solutions for water scarcity with local stakeholders. Moreover, McFee is refining a novel method of technologically mediated ethnography as part of this effort.

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