Constanza Castro Benavides

Research Fellow

Award Information

2011 IDRF Program

HistoryColumbia University

“As a Citizen of this City”: The Popular Political Culture of Urbanization, Bogotá 1880-1910

My dissertation investigates the political culture of the urban lower classes –mostly rural immigrants— that took form during Bogotá’s urbanization process. I am interested in understanding how a new popular political culture was shaped in Bogota by the very process of urbanization as well as by the political transformations brought about by the ascent to power of the conservative Regeneration Regime at the end of the 19th Century. I argue that the urbanization process, linked to the take-off of the agro-export economy and the simultaneous ascent of the Regeneration Regime, resulted in the profound transformation of the political culture of rural-urban immigrants, and had in turn, a dramatic impact on State institutions and practices. Historians have not examined the effects that the political regime and the persistence of rural and colonial discourses and practices had on the production of urban space. Nor have they studied how disputes over access to urban land and housing influenced the process of State formation. What was the popular conception of citizenship in Bogotá at the turn of the 20th century? Did colonial and republican political vocabularies continue to shape rural immigrants consiousness and actions during the urbanization process? How were ideas of honor, landownership, or the household tied to this conception? This project explores the links between material claims over the city, and political claims over citizenship, and how they met in a critical period in which political citizenship and property were inexorably linked, and when access to public space and citizenship was severely limited.