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Decentralization of Development and Nation-Building Today: Reconstructing Colombia from the Margins of Bogotá


  • Eslava Luis

    (The University of Melbourne)


Responding to an international trend that regards the state as an oversized, unsustainable and uneven jurisdiction that cannot effectively intervene in the economy to promote development objectives, nor impose a proper presence over its territory and population, the reform of the Colombian Constitution in 1991 installed local development as one of the primary strategies to recuperate the nation-building project in Colombia. Bogotá has greatly benefited from the introduction of this normative framework: within the spatial limits of its jurisdiction, Bogotá has been able to achieve a remarkable level of community engagement, measured urban growth and financial stability, as well as high per capita levels of education, health and public utility provision. However, the successful decentralization of state activity in Bogotá has implied an intensification of the systemic violence that traditionally accompanies nation-building projects. Through practices of classification, demarcation and disciplining of space and subjects, Bogotá has used a cartography of legal and illegal urban spaces in order to circumscribe its developmental target. Reflecting upon the contradictions that arise from the encounter between the weaknesses of Colombia's sovereignty and Bogotá's successful development, this paper examines the relationship between development and sovereign consolidation through the multiplication of levels of governance and the creation of increasingly smaller, more accountable sub-national jurisdictions in Third World states.

Suggested Citation

  • Eslava Luis, 2009. "Decentralization of Development and Nation-Building Today: Reconstructing Colombia from the Margins of Bogotá," The Law and Development Review, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 283-366, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:lawdev:v:2:y:2009:i:1:n:11

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pranab Bardhan & Dilip Mookherjee (ed.), 2006. "Decentralization and Local Governance in Developing Countries: A Comparative Perspective," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262524546, January.
    2. Edgar GONZÁLEZ SALAS, 2001. "Evaluación de la descentralización municipal en Colombia. Componente de capacidad institucional," ARCHIVOS DE ECONOMÍA 002626, DEPARTAMENTO NACIONAL DE PLANEACIÓN.
    3. Anonymous, 1949. "Inaugural Address," Indian Journal of Agricultural Economics, Indian Society of Agricultural Economics, vol. 4(1), March.
    4. Tim Campbell & Harald Fuhr, 2004. "Leadership and Innovation in Subnational Government : Case Studies from Latin America," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15023.
    5. Carlos A. De Mattos, 1990. "La descentralización, ¿una nueva panacea para impulsar el desarrollo local?," REVISTA CUADERNOS DE ECONOMÍA, UN - RCE - CID, June.
    6. Anwar Shah, 2006. "Local Governance in Developing Countries," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7192.
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