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Keywords:

  • Public space;
  • equality;
  • urban exclusion;
  • community governance;
  • Colombia;
  • Bogota

Abstract

Bogota's public space policy is often credited with promoting inclusionary principles. In this article, I explore critically the content of Bogota's articulation of equality in public space policy. In so doing, I present a critical view of the work Bogota's insistence on equality does to mediate class relations in the city, relying on deeply held conceptions of both social extremes. This results in the construction of a version of social harmony in public space that at once depoliticizes the claims to public space of subjects such as street vendors and the homeless and claims a new role for the middle class in the city. The analysis focuses on two examples of community governance schemes, documenting the logics and methods used by communities to implement official visions of equality and justify the exclusion of street vendors and homeless people from the area. By looking at the articulation of these exclusions in local class politics through seemingly inclusionary rhetoric, the article accounts for ‘post-revanchist’ turns in contemporary urban policy, while anchoring its production in local processes of community governance.