Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2020
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
The Predicament of Black Youth: Political Mobilization and Kinship in Cartagena, Colombia

Over the past decade, Black youth have been central in local political discourse about the persistence of urban poverty despite Cartagena's emergence as Colombia's premier global tourist destination. These representations often frame youth from predominantly Black communities as the problem of urban security, economic progress, and capitalist modernity. Preliminary research suggests that youth-based activism attempts to create possibilities for what Black youth consider a 'livable' Black life in response to the racialized criminalization and socioeconomic precarities they face. These efforts are deeply shaped by older activist cohorts who, since the 1980s, have fought against the infringement upon and unfulfillment of territorial, educational, and political rights for Black communities across Colombia. Thus, this project is an ethnographic study of these intergenerational ties that shape youth-based activism. Contributing to existing scholarship on Black political mobilizations and youth, this project explores youth organization Benkos Ku Suto's attempts to form a new political agenda to create a livable Black life while shaped by prior activist projects that have gone unfulfilled. They do so while particularly targeted by persistent racial hierarchies and racialized criminalization that disproportionately target their everyday lives. At its core, this project uncovers how Black youth, either as activists or through hegemonies that disproportionately impact them, are fundamental to prolonged political struggle for Black communities.