In 2013 the city of Medellín received the accolade of being the world’s most innovative city, based mostly on its investment in transport and other public infrastructure specifically targeting the city’s poorer areas. Much less widely known is the city’s local government’s experimentation with forms of citizen participation ranging from district-level participatory budgeting to design workshops for public spaces in specific neighbourhoods. However, there is some evidence that these local government-driven participatory processes have affected pre-existing community-led decision-making mechanisms and the ways in which communities engage with the administration, with results that are not necessarily conducive to better outcomes for communities. The proposed research will critically review the evolution of local government citizen participation initiatives in Medellín since the change in the Colombian Constitution in 1991, with a particular focus on the last decade and on initiatives addressing areas of informal settlement. It will conduct fieldwork in Medellín, working with communities to explore how community organisations’ strategies for engagement with public authorities and procurement of housing, infrastructure and services have evolved, and how communities themselves have been changing, including their perceptions and preparedness for such engagement. The analysis of this data will explore the extent to which communities are being empowered, as well as alternative ways forward for the relationship between local government and communities in relation to local development. The findings will provide a basis for reflection and recommendations that are of direct relevance for city governance in Medellín, but also potentially for other Latin American cities and beyond, including the European context.
To apply, please follow the link to the website where you will find our funded opportunities page.
Scholarships will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend of approximately £15,009 for the 36 month duration of the project and is available to applicants from the UK, EU and overseas.