Academic journal article Refuge

The Borders of Tropicality

Academic journal article Refuge

The Borders of Tropicality

Article excerpt


This article argues that the discourse of tropicality in Colombia creates boundaries and binaries between racialized and normative territories, rural peripheral areas and urban centres, and spaces that have been constructed as darker "barbaric" regions closer to sea level and whiter "civilized" regions in temperate altitudes. Nevertheless, there is nuance to the geographies of tropicality, because race is difficult to contain within urban/rural spaces. Additionally, race as a social construct that is permanently in the making, presents changes in space and time, challenging any static ideas of race in intersection with geography. In supporting the argument that the discourse of tropicality produces racialized spaces, this article addresses forced displacement and the racialization that takes place along with displacement, which implies the crossing of the "border" between the "tropics" and the cities; and how Afro-Colombians, Indigenous, and Mestiza campesinas challenge the ideas of tropicality by creating new geographies as they settle after displacement.


Cet essai soutient que le discours de la tropicalite en Colombie cree des frontieres et des oppositions binaires entre territoires racialises et normatifs, entre regions rurales peripheriques et centres urbains ainsi qu'entre les regions pres du niveau de la mer construites comme etant plus foncees et <. et les regions temperees dites plus blanches et <. situees en altitude. Les geographies de la tropicalite sont cependant plus nuancees car la race est difficile a contenir a l'interieur d'espaces urbains ou ruraux. De plus, la race est un construit social en devenir permanent qui change a travers le temps et l'espace, ce qui remet en question toute idee statique concernant son intersection avec la geographie. Soutenant l'argument selon lequel le discours de la tropicalite produit des espaces racialises, cet article traite du deplacement force et du processus de racialisation qui accompagne le processus de deplacement, qui implique la traversee de la frontiere entre les <> et les villes; et de la facon dont les campesinas afrocolombiens, autochtones et Mestiza, en s'installant suite au deplacement, creent de nouvelles geographies qui remettent en question l'idee de tropicalite.


   In November 1998 I had to run away from home because of the
   violence. It was during the night of November 7. I was pregnant. My
   route involved going through a farm that has a steep hill.... I
   managed to arrive in the early morning. I had my baby about one
   hour after.... Two days later, we learnt that we had to leave....
   Some members of the community carried me down on a hammock. We had
   to walk on a hidden path because the paramilitaries were watching
   from helicopters. When I arrived at my village, I looked around and
   it was a sad image, everybody had left.... Around midnight we heard
   that we had to leave because the paramilitaries were arriving. We
   had to get up and walked for more than fourteen hours, walking up
   and down steep hills. When we were getting close to Rioviejo ... I
   couldn't take it anymore, I didn't know where to put my feet, I was
   dying of thirst and hunger. I drank from a pothole with yellow
   water, I was so desperate. I was carried in an ambulance to the
   hospital. I didn't feel when they put me in bed. I had a
   42[degrees]C fever, and my body ached as if someone had beaten me
   badly. After this, the paramilitaries arrived, the guard and nurse
   hid me in a hole behind the hospital, where I had to remain with my
   partner and baby for hours, lhe hospital personnel weren't allowed
   to see the people that were arriving. According to the
   paramilitaries, we were all guerrillas. (2)

The testimony above speaks of the terrible violence and forced displacement that are characteristic of the Colombian social and armed conflict, but it also reflects another dynamic that is the main concern of this article. …

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