Negotiating displacement: Acting and reacting against urban segregation in Bogotá, Colombia

Published: Jan 16, 2018
Socio-spatial segregation urban regeneration internal displacement intersectionality acts of citizenship
Sonia Garzón Ramírez

Can public space in a global South city such as Bogotá be regenerated so as to become classless or neutral? To what extent and through which means can forcibly displaced people become claimants of their right to remain in Bogotá? Based on fieldwork carried out in Bogotá between April and December 2012, and drawing upon the experience of internally displaced people (IDPs), this article examines the achievements of the city’s regeneration. The displaced persons’ narratives bring to the fore the persistence of spatial scales organized along the lines of race, ethnicity and class, and show how the overlapping of these scales with the model of centralities that the city strives to implement, shapes IDPs’ subjectivities and participates in constructing their socio-spatial segregation. Therefore, I explore some practices through which this population circumvents cultural homogenization and mechanisms of segregation. Furthermore, drawing on the concept of acts of citizenship, I analyze some IDPs’ public demonstrations, and their networking with social movements. I argue that IDPs have achieved to disrupt a spatial order that worked to hide the plight of their displacement. In doing so, they have taken back the center of the city as the locus of political struggle and have positioned their right to remain in Bogotá at the center of the public debate. 

Article Details
  • Section
  • Articles
Download data is not yet available.
Author Biography
Sonia Garzón Ramírez, Central European University, Budapest
PhD in Comparative Gender Studies, Central European University, Budapest
Ahmed, S. (2010). The promise of happiness. Durham, Duke University Press.
Amnesty International. (2014). A land title is not enough: Ensuring sustainable land restitution in Colombia. London: Amnesty International.
Berney, R. (2011). Pedagogical urbanism: Creating citizen space in Bogotá, Colombia. Planning Theory, 10 (1), pp. 16-34.
Cerwonka, A. (2010, November 5-6). Slippery paths: On the difficulties and possibilities of thinking sexuality and borders together. Paper presented at the COST Workshop, Central European University, Budapest.
De Certeau, M. (1984). The practice of everyday life. Berkeley: University of California Press.
De la Torre, J. (2013, June 1). El POT de la discordia [The POT, a bone of contention]. Semana. Retrieved November, 19, 2017, from
Duzán, M. (2015, February 5). Nacidos para la guerra [Born for war]. Semana. Retrieved July 9, 2015, from
Fraser, N. (2000). Rethinking recognition. New Left Review, 3, pp. 107-120.
Gaviria, A. (2012, April 11). Uniandes - Debate Plan de Desarrollo Bogotá 1/6 [YouTube]. Retrieved July 17, 2015, from
Gilbert, A. (2015). Urban governance in the South: How did Bogotá lose its shine? Urban Studies, 52 (4), pp. 665-684.
Gonzáles, J. (2014). Aglomeraciones y condiciones de vida en Bogotá [Agglomerations and living conditions in Bogotá], Bogotá, Secretaria Distrital de Planeación.
Idler, A. and Paladini-Adell B. (2015). When peace implies engaging the ‘terrorist’: Peacebuilding in Colombia through transforming political violence and terrorism. In I. Tellidis and H. Toros (eds), Researching terrorism, peace and conflict studies: Interaction, synthesis and opposition (pp. 124–145). London: Routledge.
Isin, E. and Nielsen G. (2008). Introduction: Acts of citizenship. Ιn E. Isin and G. Nielsen (eds), Acts of citizenship (pp. 1–12). New York: Zed books.
Isin, E. (2008). Theorizing acts of citizenship. Ιn E. Isin and G. Nielsen (eds), Acts of citizenship (pp. 15-43). New York: Zed books.
Khan, T. (2009, November 22). Wider roads, fly-overs won’t solve traffic woes. DNA. Retrieved July 17, 2015, from
Kingwell, M. (2008). Concrete reveries: Consciousness and the city. New York: Viking.
Maldonado, M. (2010). ¿Cómo garantizar el derecho a la vivienda? Acceso y disfrute de una vivienda digna por parte de la población en condición de desplazamiento [How to guarantee access to decent housing? Access and enjoyment of decent housing by the displaced population]. Ιn C. Rodríguez (ed.), Más allá del desplazamiento: Políticas, derechos y superación del desplazamiento forzado en Colombia (pp. 146–223). Bogotá: Universidad de los Andes.
Massey, D. (2005). For space. London: Sage.
Maya, M. (2009, May 29). La tragedia del desplazamiento se desborda en Bogotá” [The tragedy of displacement overflows in Bogotá], Semanario Virtual Caja de Herramientas, No. 00160. Retrieved July 15, 2015, from
Morelo, D. (2014, November 10). El clasismo VIP [The VIP classism]. La Silla Vacía. Retrieved July 6, 2015, from
Morris, H. [Contravía TV]. (2015, June 11). Cuatro años Ley de Tierras [Four years Land Restitution Law] [YouTube]. Retrieved July 16, 2015, from
Mosquera, C. (2009). Los bicentenarios de las independencias y la ciudadanía diferenciada etnico-racial negra, afrocolombiana, palenquera y raizal [The independence bicentennials and the ethnic-racial differentiated citizenship: Black, afro-colombian, palenquera and raizal]. Ιn C. Mosquera and R. León (eds), Acciones afirmativas y ciudadanía diferenciada étnico-racial negra, afrocolombiana, palenquera y raizal. Entre bicentenarios de las independencias y Constitución de 1991 (pp. 1-64). Bogotá: Centro de Estudios Sociales.
Mouffe, C. (1993). The return of the political. London: Verso.
Semana (2014a, November 8). Bogotá tiene arreglo [Bogotá is fixable]. Retrieved July 17, 2015, from
Semana (2014b, November 8). El populismo VIP de Petro [The VIP populism of Petro], Semana. Retrieved June 5, 2015, from
Uribe-Mallarino, C. (2008). Estratificación social en Bogotá: De la política pública a la dinámica de la segregación social [Social stratification in Bogotá: From public policy to the dynamics of social segregation]. Universitas Humanística, 65, pp. 139-171.