Decentralization of Development and Nation-Building Today: Reconstructing Colombia from the Margins of Bogotá
The Law and Development Review, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2009
86 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2009 Last revised: 7 Jan 2010
Date Written: December 16, 2009
Responding to an international trend that regards the state as an oversized, unsustainable and uneven jurisdiction that cannot effectively intervene in the economy to promote development objectives, nor impose a proper presence over its territory and population, the reform of the Colombian Constitution in 1991 installed local development as one of the primary strategies to recuperate the nation-building project in Colombia. Bogotá has greatly benefited from the introduction of this normative framework: within the spatial limits of its jurisdiction, Bogotá has been able to achieve a remarkable level of community engagement, measured urban growth and financial stability, as well as high per capita levels of education, health and public utility provision. However, the successful decentralization of state activity in Bogotá has implied an intensification of the systemic violence that traditionally accompanies nation-building projects. Through practices of classification, demarcation and disciplining of space and subjects, Bogotá has used a cartography of legal and illegal urban spaces in order to circumscribe its developmental target. Reflecting upon the contradictions that arise from the encounter between the weaknesses of Colombia's sovereignty and Bogotá's successful development, this paper examines the relationship between development and sovereign consolidation through the multiplication of levels of governance and the creation of increasingly smaller, more accountable sub-national jurisdictions in Third World states.
Keywords: Decentralization, Development, Local Development, Nation-Building, Jurisdiction, Sovereignty, Globalization, Legal City, Illegal City, Colombia, Bogotá
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