At the intersection of Colombia’s protracted war and deep legal multicultural reforms, is the case of Afro-Colombian war victims’ demands for reparations. Drawing on her newly released book, Raising Two Fists (Stanford University Press, 2024), Cárdenas analyzes the timely, innovative, and also dangerous pursuit of ethnically-differentiated war reparations that emerged in the early 2000s in Colombia. Cárdenas examines the political power of this articulation while critically remarking on its often unwitting tethering of blackness to victimization, which relies on the hyper-visibilization of contemporary suffering as the justification for basic rights. Simultaneously, the author provides an ethnographic account of the incipient but growing movement for historical reparations for slavery that has emerged in recent years in Colombia. Analyzing the two side by side allows for a comparative analysis of their logics, temporality, and deployment, which in the Colombian case emerges as unexpectedly generative.
Roosbelinda Cárdenas is assistant professor of cultural anthropology at John Jay College and the author of Raising Two Fists: Struggles for Black Citizenship in Multiracial Colombia (2024). In addition to her scholarship on racial in/justice in Latin America, Cárdenas has conducted applied research for non-profit and grassroots organizations that defend a broad set of issues including reproductive justice and reparations for victims of war. She is co-director of the research track on Class, Race, Gender and (in)Security for the international network of scholars Security in Context. Cárdenas’ work brings the histories of postcolonial racial formations to bear on contemporary struggles over citizenship, national belonging, and social justice in Latin America.