Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Youth Cultures, Hip-Hop, NGOs, Globalization, Identity, Andes

Major Advisor

Francoise Dussart

Associate Advisor

Samuel Martinez

Associate Advisor

César Abadía-Barrero

Associate Advisor

Jeffrey O.G. Ogbar

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


This dissertation examines how empowering institutions instrumentalize aesthetic interventions to shape the social and political participation of young people. Based on twenty months of ethnographic research in Bogotá, Colombia and El Alto-La Paz, Bolivia, I explore how artists and grassroots youth organizations use hip-hop to engage with discourses about human rights and citizenship.

Although hip-hop is frequently conceptualized as a subversive genre, intimately tied to youth resistance, it has also become institutionalized by governmental and non-governmental institutions seeking to empower marginalized young people. By working with grassroots hip-hop organizations, I shed light on institutional governance strategies and the agency of young people. Ultimately, I argue that young men and women (re)create themselves through the production of audiovisual media, simultaneously reimagining their rights, roles, and responsibilities vis-à-vis the broader society.

In Colombia, I worked with an NGO called La Familia Ayara to explore how young people engage with discourses of peacebuilding and gender politics following a more than fifty-year-long civil war. In Bolivia, I focused on young people’s performances of indigenous identity which dialogue with discourses of indigeneity and decolonization at the national level. I also explored how artists form youth platforms around hip-hop, framing their practices as labor to carve out respect and draw support for urban art. Ultimately, this dissertation seeks to underscore the labor and talent of young performers who use hip-hop, alongside grassroots organizations, to make themselves known in the present and to imagine and create new possibilities for themselves in the future.

Available for download on Friday, April 24, 2026