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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Enobong Hanna Branch

Second Advisor

Agustin Laó-Montes

Third Advisor

Moon-Kie Jung

Fourth Advisor

Toussaint Losier

Subject Categories

Race and Ethnicity


Drawing on official reports, legislative procedures, court documents, and interviews with black leaders and scholars, this dissertation focuses on the racial discourses and institutional practices of the Colombian multicultural racial state. In a series of three papers, I empirically examine how the executive, legislative, and judicial bodies of public power interpret and regulate race, ethnicity, and racism in the country. In Chapter 2, I scrutinize the logic, discourses, practices, and silences of the Colombian state by analyzing the official reports submitted by the government to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). I forward the notion of the racial grammar of white liberalism to account for the liberal logic utilized by states to camouflage structural racism and facilitate racial domination even in multicultural societies. Chapter 3 examines the racial discourses that emerged while enacting Act 1482 of 2011 (Anti-discrimination Law) and its rationale. In this chapter, I argue that given an understanding of racial discrimination as an individual-based issue, the anti-discrimination law aims to chase racists without contesting the institutional and structural dimensions of racism, producing what I call the racist without racism model. In Chapter 4, I study Ruling T-691 of 2012 of Colombia’s Constitutional Court to examine the legal discourses on race utilized by this corporation when addressing cases of racial discrimination under the multicultural paradigm. I argue that the Constitutional Court is the first guardian of the multicultural regime through what I call the legal fetishism of ethnicity as an interpretative and discursive framework that protects cultural differences while reducing the significance of race. By unmasking the current Colombian state’s racial project, this dissertation shows how the state systematically ignores a more complex, structural, and historical understanding of racism and its implication for the institutional strategies to confront racial discrimination. This research contributes to the current literature on racial states and racism in Latin America by scrutinizing the state’s grammar, discourses, and political praxis to legitimate a politics of color-blind recognition, de-racialize citizenship, and reinforce an uncritical conception of multiculturalism.