Urbanism as Warfare: Knowledge, (In)security, and the Remaking of Downtown Bogotá


ACLS Fellowship Program


University Honors College


In contemporary Bogotá, city planners, developers, and residents struggle over downtown renewal by deploying security idioms linked to Colombia’s history of political and criminal violence. Urban spaces appear as theaters of military operations, bureaucratic artifacts as weapons of (para)state violence, and housing transformations as incarnations of rural land grabbing and displacement. This project shows how such rhetorical maneuvers, far from being only metaphorical reverberations of the country’s history of warfare, are practical enactments that become intimately entangled with the constitution of urban materialities. Moving through government offices, ruined and semi-abandoned construction sites, and neighborhood homes and stores, “Urbanism as Warfare” illuminates the relational dynamics between urban knowledges, artifacts, and spaces. It investigates how (in)security infuses expert practices and political imaginaries, and mediates the making of contemporary urban worlds.