Accepted Paper:

Urban uncertainties: some notes on contested urbanity in Cartagena, Colombia  

Author:

Silke Oldenburg (University of Basel)

Paper short abstract:

Without being at the margins geographically, Cartagena’s neighbourhood Getsemani is facing social marginalization and urban change. By zooming into this contested microcosm I describe the overlapping from centre and margin and take it as laboratory for the definition of sociality in uncertain times

Paper long abstract:

Getsemani is a popular neighbourhood in Cartagena's city centre. Without being at the margins geographically, its population is facing social marginalization and displacement. By zooming into this contested microcosm affected by profound urban change, I describe the overlapping from centre and margin and take it as laboratory for the definition of sociality in uncertain times.

During colonial times, the neighbourhood Getsemani was the margin of the city, a place for slaves, workers and the market. Even if the spatial organization of Cartagena unfolded and left Getsemani in the city's centre, until the 1990s the barrio was still considered a place of criminality, prostitution and a decent poor population. 1984, Cartagena was recognised as a world heritage side by UNESCO, the booming tourist industry changed the social, economic and political landscape, led to intraurban displacement, gentrification and social contestation.

In my case study based on ethnographic fieldwork (July-September 2015; January-ongoing), I examine this overlapping of centres and margins that contribute to urban uncertainties not only in the neighbourhood but for the whole city as well. Shedding light on local commerce, illicit drug networks and a large tourist industry create new perspectives on local forms of sociality which at the same time allows us a glimpse into local politics and the functioning of local authority. A nuanced perspective of urbanity in a context like Getsemani provides a glimpse into imaginations of the urban and might offer a perspective of an alternative urban future.

Panel P090
Urban margins: new perspectives on the city