PhD Oral Exam - Laly Catalina Peralta, Humanities
When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.
Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.
My dissertation seeks to offer a new theoretical approach to discuss the importance of one truth seeking mechanism in particular (truth commissions). Rather than discussing the strengths and weaknesses of establishing this mechanism and its merits over others, I suggest to discuss the very concept of truth that this mechanism is seeking to find. In that sense, the first chapter provides a review of the literature on the meaning of truth in the aftermath of violence and how it has been justified. There, I argue that historically, scholars have tried to justify the idea that truth matters in the aftermath of violence (1) by the benefits it brings, which is a type of instrumental justification; and (2) by its own sake, a type of intrinsic justification. To end this chapter I present my own approach to both concepts and introduce an alternative notion of truth in the aftermath of violence . The second chapter explores how this alternative notion of truth could be materialized through a particular truth seeking mechanism such as a truth commission. The third chapter presents a methodological matrix, which systematizes my own notion of a truth commission. The matrix is made up of variables and dimensions that are explained by analyzing two international experiences: the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRCs) of South Africa and Sierra Leone. The fourth and last chapter seeks to demonstrate the utility of the proposed matrix by applying it to a particular case: the nascent truth commission of Colombia.