Navigating Bogota Literary Patchwork


Fragmentation and discontinuity are the major characteristics of not only Bogotanian contemporary literature, but also of the urban and cultural landscape of the city. As other highly populated and chaotically grown Latin-American metropolis, the capital of Colombia became in the 20th Century a heterogenous and multipolar place, a patchwork of different geographies. Such lack of order and homogeneity has become a central research problem not only for urban planners, cultural critics, and literary scholars, but also for creative writers and artists who struggle to represent an image of the city. Bogota is like a kaleidoscope, a city fragmented at the symbolic and physical level, always in unpredictable change. “Navigating Bogota Literary Patchwork” is a project that intends to develop a geoweb-based platform and a mobile app for understanding and exploring a fragmented city.

Can cartographic visualizations, participatory documentation, and satellite-assisted navigation help us to grasp the Bogotanian urban kaleidoscope?  Building on the advancements in the field of literary geography and the affordances of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), mobile technologies, and geo-locative media, this project has two major goals. First, it creates an interactive and multimedia web-based map of Bogotanian novels from the 20th century. Second, it builds a mobile app for navigating and annotating the city’s literary geography while moving and exploring its physical space, its urban network. The methodology is interdisciplinary, experimental, and participatory. A team of academics from different fields collaborate on designing, implementing, and maintaining the platform and mobile app; while the general-public, especially passionate readers, contribute to the project with annotations, photographic records, and GPS routes captured on location.

The first phase of the project will build a prototype using two novels: Antonio Caballero’s Sin Remedio (1984), and Rafael Chaparro Madiedo’s Opio en las Nubes (1996). What are the intersections between the geographical zones, points, and routes of each novel? What do those intersections tell us about the Bogotanian city patchwork?

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