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The project Contesting Urban Borderscapes in Latin America (2023-2027) investigates the ways in which sitting residents and newcomer-migrants in self-help settlements contest and mediate the (invisible) borders and social orders among and between them.

This study aims to develop a novel theory on self-governance in self-help settlements by centralizing two processes: bordering, as the process of enclavisation and neighbourhood border protection, and ordering, as (in)tangible governing practices aimed at maintaining a neighbourhood’s social fabric. Not only is a theory of neighbourhood b/ordering relevant for urban periphery studies, it also contributes to studies on risk, violence and citizenship in Latin America.

By focusing on migrants’ experiences of settling in marginalized urban areas, increasing South-South migration is used as a lens, through which a new perspective on self-governance in self-help neighbourhoods in the region is developed. These processes will be studied in the light of increasing migration between Latin American countries, focusing on two self-help settlements across Latin America: Moravia in Medellin, Colombia and La Carpio in San José, Costa Rica. 

The main methodology in this research will be ethnographic and participatory, with a central role for the photo-voice method. The study will be multi-sited and multi-dimensional, because it aims to investigate governing structures at hand in specific places, grasping the experiences of a transitory migrant population. One aspect is to discover the workings of the social fabrics of these neighbourhoods, the movements of new-comers within them and their interactions with long-time residents. Another dimension is grasping migrants’ more general experiences of inclusion and exclusion throughout their journey to systematically understand stigmatization mechanisms.

The outcomes of the photo-voice method will feed into a traveling exhibition as valorization of the project within local communities. 


Principle Investigator and co-promotos: Dr. Christien Klaufus
PhD candidate: Isa Mollinger
Promotor: Prof. dr. Barbara Hogenboom
External advisors: Prof. P. Boccagni, Dr. N. Alvarado, Dr. N. Pawlicki. Ir. A. Kreisel and C. Holguín Ramírez