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Remaking Equality: Community Governance and the Politics of Exclusion in Bogota's Public Spaces


  • The research presented in this article was partly funded by a grant from the Foundation for Urban and Regional Studies. Support was also provided by the Center for Development Studies (CIDER) of the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota. In addition, the author wishes to thank the IJURR reviewers for their input, as well as Vicky Lawson, Katharyne Mitchell and Steve Herbert from the University of Washington, and Kate Swanson from San Diego State University, for their comments on earlier versions of this article.


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.