Suburbanization Smells Like Rural Gentrification: Population Change and the Question of Definition in the Colombian Countryside

Authors: Sebastián Villamizar-Santamaría*, CUNY - Graduate Center
Topics: Rural Geography, Urban Geography, Latin America
Keywords: Rural gentrification, Suburbanization, Social mixing, Colombia
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Roosevelt 4.5, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In recent years, the rural town of La Calera in the outskirts of Bogotá, Colombia, has received an influx of upper-middle class residents seeking "nature" and "the green." They arrive to this rural area and live among the longstanding population, most of them peasants and miners. Through that process, the smell of manure combines with that of fresh concrete, illustrating the tensions over what should nature and the urban look like for both populations. However, despite these opposing views, both newcomers and old-timers are organizing together to pressure the state into providing them with different services they request, such as water, roads or telecommunications. Using ethnographic and archival research, this case questions the rigidity of spatial and conceptual categories, like "suburbanization" and "rural gentrification", established in the global North. In addition, La Calera exemplifies how joint political participation can be achieved between different ‘gentrified’ and ‘gentrifying’ groups in disputes over space. In that sense, La Calera provides interesting lessons to understand the role of inter-class coalitions in the definition of peri-urban areas and the push the boundaries of the rural gentrification literature.

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