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Racial and relational urbanisms in Bogotá

Giulia Torino

Bogotá, Colombia


PhD in Architecture


Race, Gender, Economies, Colonialism

The racial-colonial grounds on which space-power and space-subjectivity articulations operate in Latin America have often been neglected in urban studies. While studies on marginality and segregation abound, far less attention has been paid to the racialised forms of dispossession at work in Latin American cities and to collective urban struggles against them.

The dissertation addressed this gap ethnographically, by exploring the city’s “racial and relational” urbanisms. The former, it argues, is operated by urban policy and planning as much as by everyday spatial practices aimed at denying the Right to the City of racialised urbanites. The latter encompasses the urban practices of internally displaced Afro-Colombian communities and, among them, particularly women grassroots group, in their struggle for emplacement in the normatively white-mestizo Colombian capital city.

On the one hand, the research sheds light on the coloniality of urban governance in the capital city, examining the racial underpinnings of neoliberal multiculturalism, socio-economic stratification, and access to housing in Bogotá. On the other hand, it explores different trajectories of collective black life, pointing to the need to expose not only the racial secretions of coloniality but also the spatial relations that govern everyday life and the politics of emplacement.

Conclusively, the research argues that Afro-Colombian spatial praxis and everyday tactics of placemaking in Bogotá can foreshadow new urban futures for the pluri-ethnic Latin American city. While broadening studies on postcolonial urbanism through disciplinary intersections, this research proposes a decolonial research agenda for urban studies, urging a special attentiveness to its scarcity in Colombia. Finally, it complements global and Southern urban literature with Black Geographies and Latin American debates on coloniality and multiculturalism.

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