Tag Archives: Colombia

Farewell 2014-2015 CLACS Cohort

Yesterday the CLACS 2014-2015 cohort presented their final projects of the Masters’ program. With the guidance and support of the Faculty, the students presented on a vast array of disciplines, from anthropology and journalism to literature and museology, providing an innovative look at topics related to Latin American and Caribbean Studies with impressive depth. Their research covered topics such as Quechua linguistics, gentrification in Ecuador, hipster culture in Cuba, the Palestinian migrant experience in Honduras, Afro-Mexican identity, diasporic Guatemalan literature, Chinese commerce in indigenous territories in Central America, among others. For the complete list of research projects, click here.

We are very proud of their accomplishments, and wish them all the best on what we are sure will be a successful future!

Deviating from Cartagena’s Traditional Tourism


La Boquilla’s new Fishermen Museum

Posted by Maria K. Navas – MA Candidate at CLACS / Latin American and Caribbean Studies at NYU

It’s six o’clock in the morning in Boca Grande, Cartagena, and I awake to a text from a friend, “Kariii, es que se me olvidó decirte anoche que mi suegra va a ser ahora en la mañana un etno tour en Boquilla por si quieres ir. Te recojo en quince minutos?” My friend, whose mother-in-law is one of the top tour guides of Cartagena—recommended to visiting dignitaries—is on a mission to visit La Boquilla, an Afro-descendant community in the outskirts of the city. Despite being a Cartagenera, La Boquilla is a community she has never visited, and never thought she would have needed to. The purpose of her first time visit is to discern whether or not a tour there would be of interest to her future clients. Sonia, who usually conducts her tours solely in the obvious historical sites of Cartagena, has of late, been requested to add “ethnic tours” to her repertoire.

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What You Grow Is What You Are

Post by Camila Osorio- MA Candidate at CLACS/Global Journalism at NYU


For the past month and a half I have been conducting research in Colombia on land displacement. Colombia is considered the country with the highest number of internal refugees after Syria: around six million people. Many of these are peasants, indigenous or afrocolombians in rural communities who now live in poverty in the outskirts of small or big cities around the country. And many are claiming their land back after the Colombian Government approved a law to restitute land to all of those who were forcibly displaced since 1991. The Government also agreed to an agrarian reform in La Habana if a peace treaty is signed with the FARC guerrillas.

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Meeting “The Queen”: Sex Work and Women

When I met MJ, a sex worker, we spent almost eight hours talking. She has a delicious sense of humor; she has a joke for everything- “perhaps to make life more livable” –she says.  We were sitting at a grocery store in the north of Bogotá, in the middle of a huge street, where cars often get crowded in order to reach the following avenue.  This is, however, one of the wealthiest zones in the city.

MJ told me that she would take me to many places where prostitution takes place. As she described some of them, she started to talk about her experiences in each of them. In one of them she had a fixed schedule: from 9am to 5pm.  She arrived there through a newspaper advertisement. Drugs, alcohol and smoking cigarettes are not allowed there. It is a traditional family home. Nobody, except its clients, would ever suspect that prostitution is allowed there. When sex workers enter the house, they must turn their cell phones off: the client is the only one that matters.

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Prostitution: A Growing but Silenced Issue

Since I started to think about my research project, there is one question that has unbearably revolved in my mind: Why do we, Latin Americans, decide to do research on and about our own countries? I am from Bogotá, Colombia and I came back here to do research on prostitution. To a certain extent, the reason why I chose coming back had to do with the fact that “First world” countries still intervene not only in defining Latin America, but also in reconfiguring it.

During the last decades, Colombia’s social inequalities have massively increased. With its more than half a century long armed conflict and the recently signed TLC with the United States, the effects of its eternal colonial history are not only becoming more evident, but also more unlivable for its citizens. A remainder of this reality is the amazing increase in street prostitution. Nevertheless, as everything else that publicly denies or contests the discourse of neoliberal progress, this has been a nationally silenced issue.  Continue reading

A Brothel from the South of the Global South

I went to El Dandy for the first time on a Wednesday night. El Dandy is a brothel where only biological women work. It is the only brothel within the zone, but it is divided into two separate locals, owned by the same people. The brothel is nothing like those in Hollywood movies. It is an abandoned, old house standing in the middle of a silent street. In the street just in front of it there is a mountain where slums have been settling and growing towards the top. Two local gangs and the local police are fighting for the sovereignty of the territory on a daily basis. Later on, MJ explained to me that they are frequent clients, and they pay better than others. They never quarrel with women from El Dandy.

I was very nervous. MJ introduced me to the women who administer the place: two women. V and M where very kind to me. They gave me a cup of Aguardiente – a Colombian liquor- to welcome me. They knew why I was there and they appreciated that I was there. Women at El Dandy drink Aguardiente in order to keep themselves warm. At night, the city gets so cold that I myself went there dressed as if it was winter in New York. They also get paid for the number of bottles that their clients consume; some of them told me that they have learnt how to spill some of the cups full of aguardiente that their clients offer to them, without them noticing.

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Colombian Refugees in Panama: Politics and Policy

Corgan - Panama - Mural

SJR uses art projects like this mural depicting the stages of displacement as a form of therapy for many of its refugee clients.

On a wall in the office of Jesuit Refugee Service – Panama (Servicio Jesuita a Refugiados, SJR) hangs a mural, painted by SJR’s clients, depicting their journey from violent displacement in Colombia to relative safety and self-sufficiency in Panama. The mural synthesizes the stories of hundreds of SJR’s clients – refugees, asylum seekers, and the like – and serves as an expression of the human consequences of the armed conflict in Colombia.

No one knows precisely how many refugees are living in Panama today. A January 2013 estimate by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) placed the number at just over 17,000, but the agency readily admits the reality could be quite different. In recent years, other human rights organizations have estimated the number could be as high as 75,000.

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Bonus Track: Malayerba y la dramaturgia colectiva

No quería dejar pasar la oportunidad de postear sobre una grata sorpresa que me trajo mi viaje de investigación durante el verano. Aunque la generosa beca Tinker solamente pudo cubrir mi viaje a Lima y Bogotá, quiso la casualidad que el tercer país que anhelaba visitar viniera a mí. Gracias a coordinaciones con dos amigos teatreros peruanos, Lucero Medina y Michael Joan Gómez, y al Grupo Panparamayo Teatro, tuve la oportunidad de formar parte del taller de teatro “Memoria y olvido en la acción dramática”, ofrecido por el grupo Malayerba, de Quito, Ecuador. Dos de los miembros fundadores de este emblemático grupo, Arístides Vargas y Charo Francés, fueron hasta Lima a compartir su conocimiento y su pasión por la creación colectiva. Continue reading

Bogotá and Bicycles: Steps Towards Sustainability

Bogotá is an enviously bike-friendly city, although the bikers themselves are less than friendly to tourists ambling haplessly across one of the city’s 300 km* of ciclorutas. Despite neglect by recent mayors, this network of bike paths and the city’s weekly ciclovía have managed to create quite a bike culture. It’s an impressive urban development in a city where the average driver can out-careen any New York taxi.

Since my thesis research currently looks a bit like squirrels nesting in a frat house, I’ve decided to write about this bike culture that has caught the eyes of sustainability-minded transportation planners around the globe.

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Literatura colombiana contemporánea, ¿no futuro?

Arango - Colombia - Literatura

Luz Mary Giraldo, especialista en literatura colombiana

Llegué a Bogotá con la intención de entrevistar a varias personalidades del campo literario colombiano sobre literatura reciente –últimas dos décadas–, y más específicamente sobre “imaginarios del futuro” en la narrativa colombiana contemporánea.

Quizás lo que motivó esta pregunta, en un principio, fue un agotamiento personal con el estado de cosas actual en el ámbito social, político, cultural en Colombia. Más aún, la sensación de que “no hay futuro”, que no hay un porvenir esperanzador, donde todos los ciudadanos sin importar el origen social, económico, étnico o cultural podamos vivir en paz, gozar del trabajo que queremos y sabemos hacer; acceder por igual a la educación, salud, pensión, ocio, justicia, seguridad; desarrollar libremente nuestra personalidad, género, sexualidad. Derechos que en Colombia se ven particularmente amenazados por la ausencia histórica del Estado en vastas regiones del país; un modelo económico que ha privilegiado tradicionalmente a las élites y, por lo tanto, que ha creado enormes desigualdades; una cultura política basada en la intolerancia y el acallamiento violento de las diferencias; la propagación del narcotráfico y su maquinaria de guerra; el conflicto armado entre ejército, guerrillas y paramilitares, entre otros factores.

En un panorama así, que incluso se podría concebirse como de crisis permanente, la pregunta por un futuro y un futuro alternativo al estado de cosas actual e histórico se hace fundamental. ¿Ha imaginado la literatura –el campo de la imaginación por excelencia– los futuros del país?  Continue reading