A cultural imaginary is a structuring space through which collective understandings of cultural and society phenomena are formed, reproduced, and accepted as the norm. Reading the Walls of Bogotá uses graffiti and street art to explore the urban imaginaries of violence in Bogotá, Colombia. These artistic forms are produced and received in different ways in different areas of the city and offer an insight into citizens’ everyday experiences and perceptions of violence from the political, to the personal, to that of structural inequality. Through graffiti, in which critiques of memory, space, politics, and aesthetics are embedded, artists and their viewers form vernacular theories through which they interpret the world and the spaces they inhabit. By focusing on creative expression, Alba Griffin shows how Bogotá’s residents respond to imaginaries of violence, how they critique the norms, how they appropriate space to challenge or negotiate violence, and how they push back against inequality.
Griffin offers an original and thoughtful study of street art’s appropriation of violence and its reception in the urban imaginary in Bogotá. The book explores how street artists emerge as potential voices of dissent and chroniclers of the long-engrained and systemic iterations of violence in Colombia.
Griffin reveals how graffiti in Bogotá inserts itself in discourses about violence in the region. This book gives readers a unique and unprecedented insight into street art practices in the city. The author is a gifted storyteller and scholar who deploys a complex and multilayered account of the Bogotá graffiti scene.
Alba Griffin is a researcher and associate lecturer in Latin American cultural studies, with a particular interest in violence, popular culture, and urban ethnography. She teaches at Newcastle University and works for the Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the same institution.