Affected by Conflict. Experiences of Bogota's Upper Middle Class
Hendrikje Grunow (University Constance)
Paper short abstract:
Experiences of Colombia's decade-long violent conflict depend heavily on a person's class background. Through the example of Bogota's upper middle class, I show how their class-specific emotional habitus works to distance them from conflict-related events both spatially and emotionally.
Paper long abstract:
Colombia is the second-most unequal country in the Americas, according to its Gini-Index from 2017. But inequality expresses itself not only in terms of economic wealth distribution, but also in relation to people's experiences of the country's decade-long violent conflict. While some have the means to avoid its most gruesome expressions, such as massacres, displacement, disappearance, kidnappings and extortions, others are not so lucky. Colombia's capital, Bogota, is divided into six estratos (strata), according to which utilities like water and electricity are charged. These estratos serve as geographical demarcations of social status and are commonly understood as class markers, while also being tightly linked to the perceived levels of security. Through ethnographic fieldwork gathered with individuals residing in the upper sections of the social strata, I had the chance to get to know the ways in which upper middle class Bogotans are affected by the country's conflict. Making use of the ambiguity of the word 'affected', I refer to both the material and emotional experiences of the conflict, and argue that there is a specifically upper middle class experience of the conflict based on an emotional habitus. This habitus enables them to distance themselves from conflict-related events both spatially and emotionally. The particular strategies developed to avoid being affected by the conflict can be read as strategies of 'doing class', as well, and reveal some of the emotional foundations of the specifically upper middle class experiences of the conflict.
The new anthropology of class: relations of place, experience and (dis)possessions