‘Rewriting’ and ‘Rerighting’ El Bronx in Bogotá: PAR-driven Narrative Excavation Against the Erasures of Urban Displacement

Authors: Amy Ritterbusch*, UCLA, El Cilencio Que Quiere a Gritos Decir la Verdad, Escuela de Salud San Pedro Claver
Topics: Social Geography, Human Rights, Urban Geography
Keywords: Social justice-oriented PAR, urban displacement, creative economies, homelessness, radical dissemination
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: 8201, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


We write this paper as a means of coming to terms with the recent urban displacement of street-connected communities living in a drug consumption zone known as ‘El Bronx’ in Bogotá, Colombia. We do so as a means of working against the violent urban displacements that are occurring throughout the world in the name of local economic development and the creative economy. In this paper we address one empirical question: How do street-connected girls and young women describe the space of ‘El Bronx’ in 2010 (6 years prior to the police raid that eliminated this space) and how did they arrive? In answering this question and drawing from the work of Linda Tuhiwai Smith, we work with interview data we gathered in 2010 as part of a PAR process to “rewrite” and “reright” (her)stories from El Bronx that were erased during the act of urban displacement in 2016 by media representations and state attention on traffickers and other illicit activities occurring in the zone. In our engagement with these narratives, we think through social justice-oriented PAR as a form of radical geography that may be a way forward and against the erasure implicit in state-sanctioned urban displacement. We also explore methods that generate visibility and accountability mechanisms for those disappeared by state violence and other actors implicated in smoothing over spaces for creative district readiness. In doing so, we place our methodological inquiry on the documentation of urban displacement into dialogue with PAR and radical geography debates.

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