direkt zum Inhalt springen

direkt zum Hauptnavigationsmenü

Sie sind hier

TU Berlin

Inhalt des Dokuments

Marcela Arrieta (Associate Fellow)


Doctoral fellowship from the National Institute of Science of Colombia, COLCIENCIAS


Changing the Borders of the City: Water and Power at the Rural-Urban Fringe of Bogotá, 1920-2010

Through the course of my dissertation, I strive to identify strategies for a more equitable and inclusive way of city development and water management through a cultural-historical approach. I will focus on alternative meanings of managing water and related natural resources in urban areas that have been in transformation or expansion in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Centralized water systems are a basic and fundamental construction for modern cities. They condense the idea of development and progress for the good and emancipation of the society. Originally, water technology had the sole purpose of guaranteeing hygiene for everyone. Like all urban constructions, that technology modeled the environment: it became the result of the historical and geographical urbanization of nature, a metabolism that enables and disables social and environmental conditions on several levels. In the history of cities and their water systems, the exceptions were the rule: the centralized water system did not always satisfy the expectations of a modern project. My research will focus on how alternative systems, knowledge and the meaning of water exist parallel to the modern perspective, and how that can be involved in the development of an inclusive city.

Is important to take a global point of view when studying the history of water management in urban areas, in order to understand cities’ images, trends and connections. Yet a local perspective is also crucial in decoding the existing narratives that characterize local discourses and behavior. The concept of the “modern city“ will be analyzed by exploring development projects in water management in Berlin and Bogotá. Alternative and local ways of understanding water will help shape the investigation and results. My goal is to reconstruct diverse narratives that surround this natural resource. I aim to investigate if and how structures of cultural meaning can be used as an integrating tool in the dialogue between public institutions and citizens, and whether they can promote the development of diverse, sustainable and participational cities.

For the historical approach, I will take a closer look at Berlin and Bogotá and its centralized and alternative systems in the 20th and 21st centuries. I will follow the conflicts that emerged around centralization and the search for alternatives in the past and present, as these structures are being reevaluated and re-valued. I will examine the institutional records and chronicles of the period to identify the narratives, global trends and local aspects. Using current institutional reports and interviews, I will also examine the ongoing discussion and the people involved. The historical review will allow me me to trace back the actors and ideas that could inspire and support alternative visions of water management in urban development today.

The following questions will guide my investigation: How can institutions and the actors involved cooperate and include alternative narratives of city and water management in formal urban planning? How do the people and city institutions perceive water? What are their uses and discourses? And how can an alternative system, knowledge and meaning of water be include in formal city planing, to became a form of citizenship for residents?



since 05/2012
DFG associate Fellow at the International Graduate Research Program Berlin - New York - Toronto, Center for Metropolitan Studies, Technical University of Berlin.

Since 04/2014
Doctoral fellowship from the National Institute of Science of Colombia, COLCIENCIAS.

2009- 2012
Master of Arts, Historical Urban Studies, Center for Metropolitan Studies, Technical University of Berlin.
Master's thesis: Urban streams, the significance of Water in Bogota´s urban development, 1900 to 2010.

Diploma as cultural anthropologist at the University of the Andes in Bogota, Colombia.
Diploma‘s thesis: Sensible consumption: Consumer behavior of the middle class in Bogotá and the positive effect on environmental protection.


Design and moderation of intercultural workshops. Dialogs with entrepreneurial cultures of Latin America. Communication Agency Lucid, Berlin.

Member of a research project on identity and immigration in Berlin: East and West and Right in the Middle at the Youth Museum Schöneberg, Berlin.

Anthropological research assignment from the Colombian Coffee Growers Association (Federación Nacional de Cafeteros), examination of eating habits of coffee growers, Bogota.

2005 - 2007
Research assistant at Merc GFK Market Research, managing projects on qualitative and ethnographic consumer research.

2003 - 2004
Research Assistant for the seminars of visual aesthetics at the Andes University, Bogotá.


Disrupting and (Re)Contextualizing ‘Urban Informality’, Center for Metropolitan Studies, Berlin/Germany
Conception of the workshop and presentation of the paper Water regulation and water flows

Ethnographic Methods and Writing with Suzanne Hall, Center for Metropolitan Studies, Berlin/Germany
Conception of workshop and presentation of the paper Reflections on fieldwork.

IGK Annual Conference 2013: Empire, Nature, City; York University and the University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
Conception of the panel Water and Urban Politics
Presentation of the paper Communal Water Supply Systems as an Alternative to Urban Expansion into Rural Areas

Exhibition Berlin’s forgotten Center: City Center 1840– 2010 at the Berlin City Museum in cooperation with Berlin Technical University
Research and co-authorship for the text Abominable City Hygiene: Citizens Protest the Canal Drainage.

Cultural Heritage of Bogotá’s Citizens fellowship from the Bogotá Senate for Culture, Education and Sport and the Bogotá City Museum, member of the G15 research and curator group of the National University of Colombia. Research and design of expositions for the City Museum, Bogotá.

Film documentary The Sounds of the Park on Bogotá’s National Park
Research assistant for Professor Gustavo Fernández of the Institute for Research and Creation in Film and Television at the National University of Colombia



Participation with a PEPR Annual International Conference at the Royal Geographical Society London

Toronto/Canada, York University
Meeting Professor Roger Keil, interaction with Suburban Project, TGK Annual conference

New York/USA
Archival research

Interviews and archival research


Imperativos Verdes, Research Group on political ecology. Javeriana University, Bogotá.

Erigaie, Foundation for Study and Dissemination of the Cultural Heritage of Colombia.

Línea de Historia ambiental, Research Group on Environmental History, National University of Colombia, Bogotá.


Arrieta, Marcela, Rohlf, Johanna. „Tagungsbericht Urban-Activism-Scholarship: Global Discourses in Local, Historical and Contemporary Contexts, 02.11.2012-03.11.2012, Berlin“, in: H-Soz-u-Kult, 02.03.2013. 

Zusatzinformationen / Extras


Schnellnavigation zur Seite über Nummerneingabe