Episode 28: Gwen Burnyeat Anthropologist, Author, Activist, Co-director of 'Chocolate of Peace'

Description: Gwen Burnyeat is a Wolfson Scholar and PhD candidate in anthropology at UCL (University College London), author of 'Chocolate, Politics and Peace-Building: An Ethnography of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, Colombia' (Palgrave Macmillan2018), and is producer and co-director of Chocolate of Peace. Through cacao, she has found a lens to examine the past and present trials and realities of the people of San José de Apartadó, Colombia. In an anthropological manner, her work and activism is intent on retelling their story, by understanding the community in their own terms, especially through their livelihood and passion for their occupations as cocoa farmers and stewards of the land, whilst experiencing human rights injustices, paramilitary activity in the area, and personal attacks on and stigmas against their leaders/members.

In her almost decade long investment in the history and current events of this community (known as the Peace Community), and the country itself, she has found ways to connect academia with vivid mediums of storytelling, such as film, as well as projects for peacebuilding, linking the divide between urban and rural leaders and citizens for constructive dialogue and action plans.

…it’s often in the darkest corners of the world, where we find the greatest capacity for humanity and love and creativity. - Gwen Burnyeat

The author and guest on the Well Tempered Podcast, Gwen Burnyeat

The author and guest on the Well Tempered Podcast, Gwen Burnyeat

Themes discussed in this episode:
- From literature to transitional justice; Gwen’s arrival to Colombia in 2010
- The almost half century history of conflict, forced displacement, and victimization of many Colombian citizens
- Economic interests of the region of Urabá, Colombia and natural resources of the zone surrounding San José de Apartadó
- The community develops creative concepts to protect themselves; declaring neutrality on March 23, 1997
- Interest in telling this story through the frame of organic cacao — by tracing the history of their cocoa growing and practices, one can trace their political history and experience
- Failure of previous crops to take hold as a viable economic source/cash crop
- Using a local beverage and dialogue to connect capital city consciousness with rural realities through ‘Peace Breakfasts’, hosted by Gwen's peacebuilding organization Embrace Dialogue (Rodeemos el Diálogo, ReD)
- Selling a product as a holistic story, and utilizing the visceral multi-sensorial nature of a product to relay experiences consumers will find important value in
- The future of academia and brands, and exploration into ethical business
- How to think and ask about the culture of the region. Who these people are, what values are important to them? Beyond getting a good price for a product
- Case study of Lush Cosmetics; why overall the community perceived this commercial relationship as better and more direct than other attempts and partnerships"
- Consumers looking more closely about what and how we consume, and if in our food and CPG products we are supporting violence or human rights
- Current climate in the Peace Community and surrounding region, as well as a political update

…we could all stand to know better where our food comes from… because it is often the people that are producing our food who are living in the midst of violence, and so we are connected to that violence in a way we are unconscious of. - Gwen Burnyeat

One of the protagonists of the film Doña Brígida González. Photo credit: Pablo Mejía Trujillo

One of the protagonists of the film Doña Brígida González. Photo credit: Pablo Mejía Trujillo

Related Links:
NGO Gwen volunteered with in Urabá; Peace Brigades International (PBI Colombia)
ChocoPaz Artisinal chocolate made by the Peace Community
Peace Pioneers campaign by Lush featuring the community of San José de Apartadó

Where to find Gwen Burnyeat and her work:
Buy the book. 'Chocolate, Politics and Peace-Building: An Ethnography of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, Colombia published by Palgrave Macmillan
Watch/screen the film, Chocolate of Peace, co-directed with Pablo Mejía Trujillo; Website Chocolate de Paz
Follow the film on Facebook Chocolate de Paz
Follow her on Twitter: @GwenBurnyeat
Read her posts at the LSE blog

What chocolate would Gwen take to the Cosmos?
The artisanal ground chocolate produced by the community called Chocopaz (also sold in varios outlets in Bogotá), Colombian breakfast hot chocolate with cinnamon, panela & soy milk prepared by Lolita (from the Peace Breakfasts at Restaurante Lapingachos), & thirdly, ‘ethical, vegan, alternative, & different’ chocolates.

A member of the Peace Community collects cacao pods for processing into beans for export. Photo credit: Pablo Mejía Trujillo

A member of the Peace Community collects cacao pods for processing into beans for export. Photo credit: Pablo Mejía Trujillo

**Bonus content**
At the end of this Well Tempered episode we hear from bean-to-bar craft chocolate maker Geordan Spicer from Kin+Pod Chocolates in Calgary, Canada as she tackles her views on nomenclature in the craft chocolate industry, especially regarding packaging and definitions important to consumers.