July 25, 2022

Edgelands Pops-Up in Cúcuta, Colombia

Santiago Uribe

After a series of insightful discussions, research sessions, workshops and art installations in 2021, Edgelands is continuing its work in the border city of Cucuta, Colombia.

Colombia-Venezuela border. Cúcuta, Norte de Santander, Colombia.

Photo by Juan Escobar.

With a population of nearly one million, mostly young people, considerable security challenges and a transit port for thousands of migrants from neighboring Venezuela, Cucuta is increasingly considering surveillance and digital technologies to tackle its urban security. At Edgelands we want to catalyze and highlight the discussions and reflections taking place in policy, academy and activist circles around these topics. Our work in Cucuta will involve an 8 week research sprint with a local University, a social lab workshops and a series of in-depth participatory conversations around a diagnostic report on security, surveillance and digital surveillance. We hope to bring together decision-makers, activists and relevant stakeholders to spark conversations and build policy recommendations in a participatory form.

Our diagnostic report reveals a city affected by national security issues affecting the Country: rural conflicts, armed groups and private justice find echo in the city, particularly in the peripheral neighborhoods. A series of social and economic challenges amplify urban security issues and youth find little avenues for upward social mobility. As a border city, Cucuta has been dealing with an influx and transit of millions of venezuelan migrants searching for better opportunities. The region, typically enjoying an open border and free exchange of goods and labor has faced border closings, an influx of informal migration and disruptions to social and economic bi-national life. As city police look to increase surveillance technologies, some social issues remain untackled; citizens claim for more security and more police presence yet they remain untrusting of police. Digital surveillance is spoken little about but community security efforts have proven popular measures. We look forward to discussing these issues with all.

During the last week of July Edgelands in partnership with the Swiss art initiative MATZA will hold a series of collaborative interventions with local and international artists to explore new iterations of the social contract through art interventions and collaborations. Stay tuned to read and see the results of MATZA Edgelands on our website and social networks.