Organization: Alcaldía Medellín—Department of Victim Care and Reparations
Location: Medellin, Colombia
Marginalization, Violence and Intra-Urban Displacement: A comparative case study of La Loma and Moravia in Medellin, Colombia
This Major Research Paper discusses the relationship between internal displacement and marginalization in Medellin, Colombia. It examines whether internal displacement increases a person’s/group’s marginality, which in turn may increase their chances of being displaced in the future. It also explores what role the state plays in the lives of those facing these conditions and whether those who are marginalized by displacement possess agency to break this cycle. This research explores and responds to these questions by reviewing data collected using qualitative research methods (i.e. semi-structured interviews and participant observation) over a 14-week period from two communities—La Loma and Moravia—in Medellín. Both communities differ from each other in terms of culture, history, and ethnic/racial demographics, yet they have both experienced, or are currently experiencing, intra-urban displacement—internal displacement that occurs within urban spaces, whose victims resettle within the same municipality from which they were evicted. The findings from this study indicate that not only both communities were extremely marginalized before they were displaced due to poverty, race/ethnic inequalities and unfavourable/distant geographic location, but that their marginalization increased after their displacement. Moreover, following displacement the communities were more vulnerable to violence and more susceptible to future displacement. The communities however were not without power, even if it was modest, to affect and possibly change their circumstances. The communities were able to use social capital as way of gaining political and social leverage in order to see their needs and aspirations met. In addition, the findings showed that the municipality’s role in the communities was often contradictory and its actions were perceived by community members as responding to the strategic interests and urban development plans of the state rather than the interests of the people in the communities.