Alejandra Ortiz-Ayala, PhD

Lecturer; Postdoctoral Researcher (Willy Brandt School of Public Policy)


Mitarbeitergebäude 1 / room 412

Visiting address

Universität Erfurt
Willy Brandt School of Public Policy
Nordhäuser Str. 63
99089 Erfurt

Mailing address

Universität Erfurt
Willy Brandt School of Public Policy
Nordhäuser Str. 63
99089 Erfurt

Alejandra Ortiz-Ayala, PhD

Short Biography

Alejandra Ortiz-Ayala, PhD, Research Associate and Head of conflict and conflict management specialization at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, University of Erfurt. Before coming to the Willy Brandt School, she was a Research Assistant Fellow on a participatory action research project with refugee-background young people in southern New Zealand at the School of Education of the University of Otago. 

Alejandra Ortiz-Ayala is a political scientist from Colombia, her country of origin.  Before her PhD, she spent several years as a lecturer, researcher and consultant for national and international organizations in Colombia. Her current academic research interest incorporates four research areas, with the overall goal of preventing violence. First, she has studied the role of the security sector in war to peace transitions mainly in Latin America. She has particular expertise in studying the security sector's role in peace processes, including transitional justice, state-building, and post-war violence. Second, she analysed the influence of ideology on people, political behaviour, violence mobilization, radicalism and armed groups' behaviour in the context of civil war and beyond. Her PhD dissertation, War Mentality and Post-Peace Accord Violence: A Field Experiment of Political-ideological Bias among Colombian Soldiers, combines insights from political science and the political and social psychology of intergroup conflicts to develop and test a theory of individual and institutional bias. Third, her research explores mechanisms for reconciliation between victims and perpetrators, particularly between state armed actors and civilians in post-peace agreement contexts. Finally, her recent research studies social cohesion in the context of civilian displacement and resettlement during and post-civil wars in the context of Colombia and New Zealand.

Methodologically, she is a mixed methods researcher, she has experience designing and analysing public opinion surveys– including lab-in-the-field experiments, survey experiments, and semi-structural and in-depth interviews.



  • Security Sector Reform

  • Peacebuilding

  • Reconciliation

  • Comparative Politics

  • Forced Displacement

  • Mixed methods in Conflict Studies


Alejandra Ortiz-Ayala is part of the Centre for the Comparative Study of Civil Wars as a Civil War Paths Fellow, at the University of Sheffield. Member of the Centre of Global Migrations at the University of Otago, New Zealand and research affiliate in The Political Economy and Transnational Governance (PETGOV) at the University of Amsterdam.

Current Research


Peer-reviewed journal articles

2022. Ugarriza, J. E., Trujillo, N., Hurtado, E., Ortiz-Ayala, A., Rodríguez-Calvache, M., & Quishpe, R. C. Imprints of War: An Analysis of Implicit Prejudice Among Victims, Ex-Combatants, and Communities in Colombia. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology. Advance online publication.

2021. Ortiz Ayala, A They see us like the enemy: Soldier´s narratives of forced eradication of illegal crops in Colombia. Conflict, Security and Development. DOI: 10.1080/14678802.2021.1986305.

2020. Baez S, Trujillo N., Hurtado E., Ortiz-Ayala, A., Rodríguez Calvache M., Quishpe RC., Ibañez A. The dynamics of implicit intergroup biases of victims and ex-combatants in post-conflict scenarios. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. December 2020. doi:10.1177/0886260520983258

2015. Benitez, P., Marquez, K., Quintero, M. Ortiz, A.: “Benefits and guarantees of Public Force Members within Transitional Justice on compared perspective: Lessons for Colombian case”, Panorama, 9(16)

2015. Ortiz. A & Orozco. M. “Political involvement, political participation and typology of media and new media consumption Signo y pensamiento Vol. 34, Núm. 66 doi: 10.11144 /Javeriana.syp34-66. ippt

2014. Arbelaez, M. M. O., & Ortiz-Ayala, A. “Deliberation: political activity on internet and social networks in Colombia/Deliberación: actividad política en internet y redes sociales en Colombia”. Panorama, 8(15), 91.

2014. Ortiz Ayala. Alejandra and García Sánchez, Miguel. “Because I love you, I support you. Style of Government and presidential approval in Latin America,” Political Science Review, (Santiago-Chile), Vol.34, No. 2 DOI:

Peer reviewed book chapters, books edited

2022. Anderson, V, Mostolizadeh, A and Ortiz-Ayala, A (Under Review). Refugee-background students in southern Aotearoa New Zealand: Educational navigation and necessary self-sufficiency in Elgar, Edward (Eds.), Research Handbook on Migration and Education.

2021. Ortiz-Ayala, A. From Liberal Peace to Positive Peace: Security Sector Reform in Deeply Divided Societies. In: Standish K., Devere H., Suazo A., Rafferty R. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Positive Peace. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore.

2018. Ortiz Ayala, A., Hurtatis, HI., Zuluaga C., Chapter 7: “Veterans speak: Approximations and inputs of a public policy for Colombian Veterans.” In Pabón Ayala, Natalia, Ed. Memory and Victims of the Military Forces, Universidad del Rosario, Bogotá-Colombia

Reports, Policy Papers and Reviews

2022, Ortiz-Ayala, Alejandra. The Madrigals Who Live on the Other Side of the Pacific: A review of Encanto. Howard, Bryon; Bush, Jared (Director); Castro Smith, Charise (co-director), Journal of Refugee Studies, feac029,

2021, Ortiz Ayala, Alejandra. Book review of ‘how ISIS fights: military tactics in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Egypt’: by Omar Ashour, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK: Edinburgh University Press, 2021, 256 pp.,(UK) (Paperback), ISBN 9781474438223. In (pp. 1-2)

2019. Ortiz Ayala, A. The Military and the Peace-Process in Colombia. WeltTrends: Institut für Internationale Politik, IIP (Paper 17/2019)

2018. Wills, Maria Emma, Ortiz Ayala, Alejandra, Machado, Juliana. Untold conversations between the Security Sector and the NCHM National Centre for Historical Memory (NCHM).

Under review & In progress

2022. “Wartime migration and trust in neighbors and the state in rural Colombia”, with Abbey Steele and Sebastián Pantoja Barrios. Under review.

2022. “Schools and teachers as brokers of belonging for refugee-background young people”, with Associate Professor Vivienne Anderson and Sayedali Mostolizadeh.