Looking back at 2017

This is my last entry this year. Some things worked this year, other things didn’t. I did some things that I’m really proud of and other things are helping me make decisions for 2018.

I started this blog this year. My purpose was to document my research on gender and urban planning in Medellin, Colombia, where I work and live since 2014. Blogging has been a new experience for me. When I started the blog, I wasn’t sure which language I should blog. Being based in Latin America, it made sense to blog in Spanish. I wanted the blog to be read in different parts of the world, so English made more sense to me.

Since April, I’ve been conducting fieldwork. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with civil servants working at the Secretary for Women, activists of women’s social movements and organizations, and in December, with female community leaders. Their stories have given me insight on gender issues in this amazing city.

Though my main focus in this blog has been gender and urban planning in Medellin, I also included in this blog the case of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Honduras, is my country of origin and have been researching the country since 2003. Violence and crime and lack of state protection have become main causes of forced displacement and migration especially of women and children. One of my plans in the future is to compare Medellin and Tegucigalpa.

Aside from fieldwork, I participated in various workshops this year. In June, Frank Müller invited me to co-organize and participate in the workshop “Securitizing Housing” at the Center of Urban Studies at the University of Amsterdam. I presented some ideas based on my fieldwork in Medellin. Shortly after, I was invited to a workshop at the Lateinamerika Institut at the Freie Universität Berlin.

In November, I was invited to workshop on violence prevention in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. It was the first time I gave a presentation to practitioners and policy makers. The trip coincided with the elections. The aftermath of Honduras’s elections was unexpected; I witnessed the electoral crisis and wrote a note about it in The Conversation. The Honduran elections were on of the main disappointments this year.

On a positive side, two chapters about Honduras were published this year:

  • Gutiérrez Rivera, Lirio, Stronen, Iselin Asedotter, and Margit Ystanes. (2017). “Coming of age in the penal system: neoliberalism, ‘mano dura’ and the reproduction of ‘racialised’ inequality in Honduras”. In: The Social Life of Economic Inequalities in Latin America. Decades of Change, edited by Iselin Asedotter Stronen and Margit Ystanes. Basingstoke, Palgrave  Macmillan.


  • Gutiérrez Rivera, Lirio. (2017). “The World of the Rondines: Movement, order, and control in a Latin American prison”. In: Carceral Mobilities: Interrogating Movement in Incarceration, edited by Jen Turner and Kimberly Peters. London: Routledge.


Also, I have been doing expert reports for Hondurans seeking asylum in the U.S. So far, the Hondurans for whom I have written expert reports and have testified telephonically in immigration hearings have been granted asylum.

Another positive note was passing my trial period at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. I started at the Department of Political Science in 2016. Previously I worked at the School for Urban and Regional Planning at the same university. Although it was the same university, it was a different department. So 2017 was getting to know students and colleagues.

I have some manuscripts on the pipeline. I was hoping to finish one before vacation, but couldn’t. I realize my brain needs to rest completely from academia, from thinking. One manuscript was rejected. Rejection is hard and in the past weeks I have been processing it. I’ll be ready to take on that manuscript next year after vacation.

And I am off on my much-needed vacation. I haven’t been able to take one this year -I usually go on vacation twice a year. Self care is one of my top priorities. This end of the year, I will disconnect. Ten days in the Caribbean, in one of Colombia’s islands where I will read literature, go diving, and rest.

Wishing everyone happy holidays and the best in 2018!


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