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Title: Reading the walls in Bogotá : imaginaries of violence in the urban visual landscape
Authors: Griffin, Alba
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis examines urban imaginaries of violence in Bogotá, Colombia, through the lens of graffiti and street art. Signs of these aesthetic practices are abundant in the city, and my research brings together a range of subcultures, styles, motivations and messages to highlight the role of the urban visual landscape as a site through which imaginaries of violence are critiqued, negotiated and (re)produced. Informed by an ethnographic approach, the analysis focuses on the meanings attached to graffiti and street art in different areas of the city, collected through interviews and focus groups with their creators and the wider public. The thesis is structured around three case studies, which present some of the key contemporary trends in graffiti and street art in Bogotá. In the first, the dynamics of graffiti and street art on Calle 26 reveal competing ways of seeing political violence and diverse expectations of peace through the representation of memories of violence. In the second case study, the process of beautification is used to counteract the stigma attached to vulnerable neighbourhoods in Ciudad Bolívar and La Perseverancia, but it is hampered by the realities of structural and direct violence. Finally, in La Candelaria, attitudes to graffiti and street art are entangled in aesthetic hierarchies that reflect social hierarchies, which underscores the structural inequalities embedded in public space. The socio-spatial context informs the practices and imaginaries in, and of, these different places, and serves to highlight the heterogeneity of urban social groups and their diverse claims to space. By focusing specifically on the tensions, complexities and contradictions associated with graffiti and street art in these places, I show the convergence of violences in everyday life and their potential political, spatial and social implications, while also problematizing the cultural politics of these forms of expression.
Description: Ph. D Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Modern Languages

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