Gorgeous monster: The arts of managing violence in contemporary Bogota
Marcus, George E.
Doctor of Philosophy
In the late 20th century, Bogota, capital of Colombia, a country where homicide is the leading cause of death, became a model of governmental intervention aimed at managing violence. My dissertation inquires into this puzzling transformation. It, however, is not intended as another evaluation of the reduction of violence and crime in the Colombian capital. Rather, my work examines the unfolding of municipal initiatives aimed at reducing violence---locally known as coexistence and citizen security policies---and their further framing as a model of governmental intervention for managing violence elsewhere. I examine these initiatives in terms of their crafting and deployment at the local level, the ideas and approaches to violence that lie behind them, and both local and extra-local dynamics that intervene in their further circulation. To put it in the most simplified manner, my dissertation addresses citizen security and peaceful coexistence as ways of managing violence in contemporary Bogota, as they circulate and as they are redefined through a variety of settings including official and private institutions, academic circles, governmental agencies, multilateral organizations and daily urban scenes. My research takes place at a historic moment: the transformation of Bogota from a city frequently described as one of the most violent and chaotic cities in Latin America, to a city increasingly addressed as an exemplary case for other cities in the region in terms of violence reduction, urban governance, and the management of crime and violence. This transformation unfolds in the aftermath of the Cold War and under the shadow of both the war on drugs and, more recently, the war on terrorism. Redefinitions of violence and crime, of security and governance that are attached to these shifts, express themselves in particular ways at the local level. Rather than considering these geopolitical shifts as merely a broader context for my research, I inquire into a local version of them. I look into the creation, adoption, and circulation of a model of governmental intervention aimed at reducing violence, tied to specific settings and yet not restricted to them.
Cultural anthropology; Latin American history