Department of Global Development Studies


Global Development Studies

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Title:  Era mejor cuando éramos ilegales – it was better when we were illegals’: Indigenous people, the State and ‘public interest’ indigenous radio stations in Colombia

Date: November 8, 2019
Venue: MacDonald Hall, Room 2
Time: 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM
Speaker: Diego Mauricio Cortes

This talk critically analyzes state intervention for the development of indigenous radio stations in Colombia. Similar to other studies on Latin American community media, my research illustrates how these radio stations have contributed positively to the livelihoods of indigenous communities. Importantly, community radio has fostered a new generation of leaders, promoted indigenous languages, and encouraged political action for the protection of indigenous territories against drug traffickers, illegal miners, and State-supported developmental projects. However, there is evidence that these media projects have brought new challenges for these communities such as hefty financial costs, dependency on external donors, and legal restrictions for radio networking, calling for a more nuanced consideration of the complexities of State intervention in community radio projects. For this reason, for many local indigenous community members who were the subject of state intervention in such projects, ‘it was better when we were illegals.’ As a conclusion, I argue that the logic of the contradictory State legislation, instead of empowering indigenous media projects, tamed their political potential.



Diego Mauricio Cortes

Dr. Diego Cortes is a Visiting Faculty-Diversity Fellow at the University of Pittsburg.

Dr. Cortes' dissertation is entitled "Community Oriented Radio Stations and Indigenous Inclusion in Cauca, Colombia" was completed at University of California, San Diego.