Dialogues and positionalities in research in / on Colombia. Challenges in the face of a colonial past and a post-agreement and (post-syndemic?) future

Type: Virtual Panel
Sponsor Groups: Latin America Specialty Group
Organizers: Diego Andres Lugo Vivas
Chairs: Diego Andres Lugo Vivas


Dialogues and positionalities in research in / on Colombia. Challenges in the face of a colonial past and a post-agreement and (post-syndemic?) future

Our work as geographers has implications that go beyond the generation of knowledge. Our ethical, moral and political commitments define what we do and how (Wedeen, 2010). And so do the areas of study and the virtual, physical, historical and emotional spaces with which we get involved. Our research has consequences for (and extract from) the communities we visit and to a similar extent they impact us (de la Cadena, 2015, 2018).

This is even more true for research and scholars that critically question a certain state of affairs or seek to advance changes and raise awareness of complex colonial problems (de la Cadena, 2014, 2015). In the case of Colombia, contributions presented in scenarios and academic exchange networks such as the Colombian Congress of Geography (CCG), the Encuentro de Geografías de América Latina (EGAL), the American Association of Geographers (AAG), or the Conference of Latin American Geographers (CLAG), touch the nerve of highly sensitive issues such as inequity, armed conflicts, gender violence, racialized educational gaps, growth and expressions of inequality in the cities, population mobility, migration and forced displacement, as well as the consequences of coloniality in our territories (Santana Rodríguez, 2014). Although these processes are present in countless regions and countries, in Colombia, some topics seem to have attracted our attention, among them: violent inequity (Ballvé, 2013; 2019; Baquero, 2012, 2017), segregation and state abandonment (Huezo, 2019), deep racial and gender disparities (PCN, Madre, and the Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic CUNY School of Law, 2019), extractive appropriation of natural resources (La Via Campesina, 2017, Reyes, 2017), and different forms of systemic and everyday violence (CNMH, 2010; González, Bolívar, and Vásquez, 2003, Grajales, 2011, 2013; Lemaitre, 2016), conflicts (Ojeda, 2012; Ruta Pacífica de las Mujeres, 2017) and resistance (Ramírez, 2012).

In the midst of a complex public health situation that has transformed the way we share ideas and participate in academic debates, the purpose of this panel is to virtually discuss the challenges, opportunities, and positionalities around research in Colombia. The speakers will reflect on their role as researchers and the challenges posed both to their academic initiatives and to the situation of vulnerable and marginalized groups in the face of a colonial past and a (post-syndemic?) future.

In a preliminary way, we are interested in sharing experiences of emerging academics conducting research in different parts of Colombia and in the Andean South America, if possible. Thus, we seek to highlight the fluidity and transnationality of problems that seem local but represent regional and global phenomena.

This panel will consider the following dimensions as guiding points of the discussion:
- Geographic research in South America
- Challenges and positionalities around research on inequity, coloniality, resistance, exclusion, gender and racial disparities, as well as deep expressions of socio-spatial segregation in the territories.
- Likely scenarios for social action and academic research amid new tensions and conflicts
- The weight of colonial history and a foreseeable future of conflictual post-agreements, active inter-country migration, strong social mobilizations and the exacerbation / deepening of old inequalities
- Moral, ethical, and political commitments and our role in the regions in a (post-syndemic?) future


Ballvé, Teo. “Everyday state formation: territory, decentralization, and the narco landgrab in Colombia.” Environment and Planning D 30 (4):603-622, 2012.

Baquero, Jairo. “Communal territorial rights and the role of class, race, and ethnicity in recent agrarian struggles in Latin America”. Oksana Balashova, Ismail Doga Karatepe, and Aishah Namukasa (Eds,) Where have all the classes gone? A critical perspective on struggles and collective action. Publisher: Rainer Hampp Verlag, 2017.

Baquero, Jairo. Land grabbing and conflicts over territories: Agro-industrial projects in Lower Atrato. Paper for the Global Land Grabbing II Conference. October 17‐19, Ithaca: Cornell, 2012

de la Cadena, M. (2015) Earth-Beings: Ecologies of Practice Across Andean Worlds (Morgan Lectures Series-Duke University Press)

de la Cadena, M. (2018). Uncommoning Nature: stories from the Anthropo-not-seen. In Penelope Harvey et. al. Anthropos and the Material Duke University Press

de la Cadena, M. (2014) The politics of modern politics meets ethnographies of excess through ontological openings. In Fieldsights – Theorizing the Contemporary, Cultural Anthropology online, http://culanth.org/fieldsights/471

Grajales, Jacobo. “The rifle and the title: paramilitary violence, land grabbing and land control in Colombia.” Journal of Peasant Studies Vol 38 n°4, p. 771–791, 2011

Grajales, Jacobo. “State involvement, Land Grabbing, and Counter-Insurgency in Colombia.” In Wolford et al. (Eds) Governing Global Land Deals. The Role of the State in the Rush for Land, Wiley Blackwell, Pp 23 – 44, 2013

González, Fernán, Ingrid Bolívar, and Teófilo Vásquez. Violencia política en Colombia. De la nación fragmentada a la construcción de Estado. Bogotá: CINEP. Chapter 3, 2003.

Huezo, Alexander. “Contested natures: Coca, the War on Drugs, and ecologies of difference in Colombia's Afro-Pacific”. Journal of Political Ecology, Pp. 306-322, 2019

La Via Campesina. Struggles of La Via Campesina - For Agrarian Reform and the Defense of Life, Land and Territories. https://viacampesina.org/en/struggles-la-via-campesina-agrarian-reform-defense-life-land-territories/, 29 Pages, 2017

Lemaitre, Juliana. “After the War: Displaced Women, Ordinary Ethics, and Grassroots Reconstruction in Colombia.” Social & Legal Studies 25(5), 2016.

Ojeda, Diana. “Green pretexts: Ecotourism, neoliberal conservation and land grabbing in Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia” The Journal of Peasant Studies, Volume 39, Issue 2, 2012.

PCN, Madre, and the Human Rights and Gender Justice (HRGI) Clinic CUNY School of Law. Violations of Afro-Colombians’ gender-based human rights, Washington: Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), 2019

Ramírez, María Clemencia. Between Guerillas and the State: The Cocalero Movement, Citizenship, and Identity in the Colombian Amazon. Duke University Press, 2012.

Ruta Pacífica de las Mujeres. Truth and memory commission for women from Colombia, Creative Commons, 105 Pg., 2017

Santana-Rodríguez, L.M. (2014). Balance del “XXI Congreso Colombiano de Geografía: Transformaciones territoriales y sociedades en conflictos”. Revista Entorno Geográfico No 11: 220-231, ENERO / DICIEMBRE 2014

Wedeen, L. 2010. Reflections on Ethnographic Work in Political Science, in Annual Review of Political Science. 2010. 13:255–72


Type Details Minutes
Panelist Laura Neville University of Lausanne - Faculty of Faculty of Geosciences and Environment 15
Panelist Megan Baumann Pennsylvania State University 15
Panelist Zannah Matson 15
Panelist Diego Andres Lugo Vivas Universidad del Valle - CET 15

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