From Street Girls to "VMC" Girls: Empowering Strategies for Representing and Overcoming Place-Memories of Violence in Colombia

Citation:

Ritterbusch, Amy E. 2013. “From Street Girls to “VMC” Girls: Empowering Strategies for Representing and Overcoming Place-Memories of Violence in Colombia.” Children, Youth and Environments 23 (1): 64-104.

Author: Amy E. Ritterbusch

Abstract:

Memories of violence for “street girls” (referred to as VMC girls in this article) are stored in multiple places across geographic scales. From particular private places to blood-stained street corners, VMC girls’ movements throughout the city are haunted by place-memories of violence. Based on findings from youth-driven participatory action research (YPAR) with VMC girls in Bogotá, Colombia, this article re-presents violence through their eyes by drawing from participatory writing workshops, place-perception interviews, street-corner cartography, and textual reflections in fieldnotes on violence in the socio-spatial context of VMC girls. The inclusion of VMC girls’ voices through qualitative data excerpts takes the reader on a journey through these young people’s minds, voices and visions of Bogotá. Through a description of how VMC girls exercised their “right to the city” during the project, the article discusses strategies adapted by the YPAR team to overcome experiences of violence and to re-envision the urban spaces in which violence occurred. These strategies include artistic expression and different acts of “speaking out” in which VMC girls alter spaces in order to erase painful place- memories of violence and construct an alternative geo-narrative of the city.

Keywords: youth participatory action research (YPAR), children's geographies, gender-based violence, place-memories, street girls

Topics: Age, Youth, Gender, Girls, Gender-Based Violence, Sexual Violence, Trafficking, Violence Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2013

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