Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Latin American and Caribbean Studies

First Advisor's Name

Ana Maria Bidegain

Second Advisor's Name

Ulrich Oslender

Third Advisor's Name

Andrea Fanta


Colombia, Religion, Presbyterian, Transnationalism

Date of Defense



The purpose of this thesis was to explore how Christian networks enable strategies of transnational alliance, whereby groups in different nations strive to strengthen one another’s leverage and credibility in order to resolve conflicts and elaborate new possibilities. This research does so by analyzing the case of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia (IPC). The project examines the historical development of the IPC from the initial missionary period of the 1850s until the present. Specifically, the purpose of the study was to consider how the historical struggle to articulate autonomy and equality vis-à-vis the U.S. Presbyterians (PCUSA) and paternalist models of ecclesial relations has affected recent political strategies pursued by the IPC.

Despite the paternalism of the early missionary model, changing conceptions of social transformation during the 60s contributed to a shift in relations. Over time the IPC and PCUSA negotiated relationships in which groups both acknowledge a problematic history and insist upon an ethnic of partnership and respect. Today, PCUSA groups, in concert with the IPC, collaborate on a range of transnational political strategies aimed at strengthening the IPC’s leverage in local struggles for justice and peace.

A review of this case suggests that long-established Christian networks may have an advantage over other civil society groups such as NGOs in facilitating strategies of transnational alliance. Although civil society organizations often have better access to important resources needed for international advocacy initiatives, Christian networks, such as the one established between the IPC and U.S. Presbyterian communities, rely on a history of negotiating power-disparity in order to elaborate relationships based on listening and partnership. Such findings prove important not only to how we conceptualize transnational alliance but also to the ways that we think about the history and future of Christian networks.





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