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Citizenship in times of exception: The turn to security and the politics of human rights in Valle del Cauca, Colombia

Erika Marquez, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Since at least the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, security has emerged as a major political paradigm built upon an expansive definition of state control emphasizing not only the mere policing of violations of law, but the means through which the state asserts itself as a particular political entity through the militarized management of social actors both inside and outside its borders. Through an analysis of the case of Colombia's Democratic Security policy, this dissertation documents the transformations of social mobilization within the boundaries of the newly politicized, and newly globalized, security state. The research builds upon six months of ethnographic work and in-depth interviews with Valle del Cauca regional chapters of pacifist feminist grassroots network Women’s Peaceful Route, with human rights advocacy organization Permanent Committee for Human Rights, and with afrodescendant movement Process of Black Communities. Analyzing the work of these organizations, this dissertation assesses the uneven impact of security policies on social actors claiming territorial, cultural, and political rights. Through these organizations the work illuminates how security is gendered and racialized, while it is strongly resisted by the movements’ challenge to the model of citizenship promoted by the state. The research poses that, no longer able to see human rights work in terms of the defense of individuals, social movements have instead redeployed the concept of human rights as a mode of articulating radical democratic demands reflecting a collective social struggle. Illustrating the connections between neoliberal development and security, and its impact for afrodescendants and women’s claims for rights and recognition, the dissertation shows how global discourses on security influence the constitution of new social identities through the constant re-iteration of the question 'who is the terrorist,' and the subsequent re-articulation of new parameters of citizenship. Beyond Colombia’s case, this research advances existing scholarship regarding the technologies of statehood in the post September 11 era, at the same time that it contributes to an understanding of social mobilization in the context of global and hemispheric governance.

Subject Area

Latin American Studies|Social structure

Recommended Citation

Marquez, Erika, "Citizenship in times of exception: The turn to security and the politics of human rights in Valle del Cauca, Colombia" (2012). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3498360.