Joan  Camilo Lopez

Joan Camilo Lopez

PhD candidate in Human Geography and Urban Studies

Department of Geography and Environment

Connect with me

English, Spanish
Key Expertise
Latin American cities, Forced displacement, Ecologies of War and Peace

About me

Since 2015 I have been doing ethnographic fieldwork in Medellin, Colombia among forcibly displaced communities. I studied at the Graduate Center— The City University of New York (CUNY), and during my time there I conducted field research to examine the way place/territory and the State is reconfigured by forcibly displaced people in Medellin, Colombia’s second largest urban center. That work resulted in a master's thesis titled, “Territories of Contestation in Medellin: Destierro, Memory, the Youth, and the State”.

Because my work has been developed within communities affected by the Colombian internal conflict, I have become interested in how forcibly displaced people experience violence and how they organize to respond peacefully to that violence. I have followed and documented the lives of youth community leaders in Medellin’s northern comunas, and in that process I have learned about the aesthetics of grassroots peacebuilding practices and the poetics that accompany such processes.  

My current academic interests are around state and national building processed embedded in the warfare tactic of forced displacement. I think about this in relation to the understandings of the State and of Nation from the perspective of the displaced and the ways these understandings influence place-making in Colombian cities.

The research questions guiding my doctoral studies are: What meanings do forcibly displaced people ascribe to the body, place/territory, and the state during processes of resettling, and how are these meanings performed and materialized in urban margins? 



Newspaper articles

Columns at Bogotá’s newspaper, El Espectador:

Affiliations and memberships

  • Earth Institute, Columbia University in the City of New York.
  • Institute for Latin American Studies (ILAS), Columbia University in the City of New York.
  • Anthropology Department, City College, City University of New York (CUNY)

Positions held

  • Researcher. Youth, Peace, and Security Program at the Advanced Consortium for Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity (AC4), Earth Institute. Columbia University. New York, New York.
  • Adjunct Lecturer.M.S in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, Columbia University. New York, New York.
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor. Anthropology Department. The City College of New York, City University of New York. New York, New York. 

Expertise Details

Youth political activism; Colombia; Nation and state building; Violence and peace; Coloniality of power; Aesthetics and poetics of grassroots organizing; Memory and history