Grassroots Human Rights Activism in Contemporary Colombia

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Esparza, Louis Edgar
The Graduate School, Stony Brook University: Stony Brook, NY.
Activists who become involved in radical politics often put themselves in dangerous situations to achieve objectives that seem highly improbable. More often than not, their efforts are thwarted, yet many activists keep trying. How does one sustain the vision that drives high-risk activists over the long-term in the face of such resistance to change? Using interviews with grassroots human rights activists in Bogota, Colombia, this dissertation explores theories of high-risk political behavior. It argues that the analysis of processes of coming to engage in high-risk activism lends robust insights into what makes a person decide to participate in high-risk activism. This shift in focus explains the contradictory results in studies that focus on identity, demographic variables, social networks, ideological beliefs, or biographical availability.