AUSTIN G. ZEIDERMAN, then a student at Stanford University, Stanford, California, received a grant in October 2008 to aid research on 'Living Dangerously: Risk and Urban Governance in Bogotá, Colombia,' supervised by Dr. James G. Ferguson. In the late 1990s, the municipal government of Bogotá, Colombia, began mapping the uneven distribution of environmental risk (landslides, floods, and earthquakes). In 2003, a housing agency (Caja de la Vivienda Popular) was put in charge of a resettlement program aimed at relocating low-income populations living in areas designated zonas de alto riesgo, or 'zones of high risk.' To account for this phenomenon, this research project was dedicated to answering the following question: How and to what effect does risk work within emergent forms of urban government in Bogotá? The project involved an ethnographic study of both the Caja's housing relocation program and the scientific expertise on which it is based. In addition, it pursued an historical study that examined, as a relatively recent political problem, the imperative to protect life from a variety threats. An historical ethnography based on twenty months of fieldwork and archival research in Bogotá, the resulting dissertation will examine the emergence and contemporary workings of risk as a mode of governing cities and urban life in the twenty-first century.
Zeiderman, Austin. 2013. Living Dangerously: Biopolitics and Urban Citizenship in Bogotá, Colombia. American Ethnologist 40(1):71-87.