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A feeling of belonging: Exploring a women's community-based organization’s place-making practices in Cartagena (Colombia) through a feminist urban political ecology approach

Authors: Laura Neville*, University of Lausanne - Faculty of Geosciences and Environment
Topics: Urban Geography, Development
Keywords: Feminist urban political ecology; waste management; Colombia
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In urban contexts, solid waste management (SWM) has increasingly been theorized as an infrastructure, thus shedding light on the socio-political processes sustaining it. In this presentation, I focus on the gendered dimension of the network that shape the waste infrastructure. In particular, I analyze the role of a women’s community-based organization (WCBO) in the everyday waste-based practices mobilized to create a sense of place in a low-income neighborhood in Cartagena, Colombia. The WCBO gathers women internally displaced by the armed conflict, largely of afro-descendent origin.
I draw on a feminist situated urban political ecology (UPE) framework to explore the role of gender in shaping urban environmental transformations. I seek to highlight this relation by using a place-making theoretical framework. Through this lens, I analyze how and why SWM everyday practices – such as community cleaning activities, awareness campaigns, recycling activities in public space, etc. – are mobilized by the WCBO to renegotiate their relation to place and create a sense of place. With a focus on ‘ordinary’ citizens’ micro-power, based on participant observation and semi-structured interviews, I explore how uneven urban environments are (re)produced through everyday SWM practices. I point to the growing role played by the WCBO in the community dynamics by building on these women’s strength as community leaders, and show how women are notably playing an important role in SWM activities in the neighborhood. Finally, I reflect upon the ways in which the WCBO’s waste-based activities sustain the emergence of a feeling of belonging in the neighborhood.

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