Mobilities at Gunpoint: The Geographies of (Im)mobility of Transgender Sex Workers in Colombia

Citation:

Ritterbusch, Amy E. 2016. “Mobilities at Gunpoint: The Geographies of (Im)Mobility of Transgender Sex Workers in Colombia.” Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 106 (2): 1–12.

Author: Amy E. Ritterbusch

Abstract:

Drawing from geo-ethnographic data collected during a participatory action research (PAR) project funded by the National Science Foundation and subsequent research conducted in Colombia with marginalized youth populations, this article explores the sociospatial exclusion and (im)mobility of the oppressed, subjugated, and persecuted through the social cartographies, geo-narratives, and auto-photographic images of transgender sex workers that were displaced by paramilitary-led gender-based violence and forced to leave their birth cities and rural communities in Colombia at an early age. As is the case for thousands of victims of the armed conflict in Colombia, displaced transgender populations seek refuge and opportunity in the streets of Bogotá, Colombia. The (im)mobilities of transgender sex workers are explored in two stages—the forced, violent mobilities of their displacement, followed by their experiences of discrimination, sociospatial exclusion, and persecution through hate crimes and social cleansing killings on arrival in Bogotá. This article discusses how research actors constructed their own spaces of cohesion and resistance to the multifaceted discrimination and marginalization from mainstream urban society through PAR. The PAR project presented in this article continues as part of the broader struggle of transgender sex workers to challenge the exclusionary discourses and praxis that limit their mobilities and autonomy in the city. This article concludes with examples of how research actors use the action-driven elements of PAR to negotiate, analyze, and resist the relationships of power and violence embedded within their urban environment and begin to re-present and change the reality of their immobility within the city.

Keywords: Colombia, gender-based violence, gendered (im)mobilities, internally displaced persons, Participatory Action Research

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Forced Migration, Gender, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, LGBTQ, Livelihoods, Sexual livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Paramilitaries, Violence Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2016

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