Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Tourism, Race, Popular Politics, Informal City, Heritage Tourism

Major Advisor

Mark Healey

Associate Advisor

Melina Pappademos

Associate Advisor

Peter Baldwin

Associate Advisor

A. Ricardo López-Pedreros

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Beginning in the mid-twentieth century, the Colombian state and private agents joined efforts to turn Cartagena into an international tourist destination. To do so, they refashioned the city center to recreate the colonial landscape and promote Cartagena’s image as an untainted paradise frozen in time. This dissertation demonstrates that the city’s remaking was largely rooted in the systematic segregation of locals whose presence was deemed to be inconvenient for tourism development. As the city center became a historical district, certain uses and socio-economic practices –such as low-income housing, street vending, wholesale trade, etc.- were prohibited or discouraged by zoning regulations as they were thought to disrupt colonial aesthetics. Land grabbing, speculation, and slum clearance pushed dwellers further toward the periphery. Amid these changes, ordinary citizens mobilized to preserve the city as a site to assert their citizenship rights. In doing so, they resorted to multiple strategies, including community development, collective mobilizations, and alliances with actors across the political spectrum, from mainstream politicians to radical foreign and local activists, from labor unions to the Peace Corps. This dissertation tells the story of how the state, private agents, and citizens’ conflicting views drove the remaking of Cartagena. It also analyzes how intellectuals, journalists, politicians, and everyday people interpreted urban changes from a racial perspective, indicating that they widened the gap between whites and blacks in a city already divided along racial lines. As the city was remade, class, race, gender, and spatial structures came together to forge local identities and became instrumental for locals to make sense of this moment of urban change.

Available for download on Tuesday, June 18, 2024