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Maria Vidart

Graduate Student
Email: mlv1@rice.edu

My dissertation project studies how the political management industry in Colombia appropriates late liberal market segmentation logics in reproducing a hierarchical social order under a participatory guise. I ethnographically study the cultural significance of market segmentation, both in reproducing class divisions and in coalescing the nominally opposed practices of political marketing and clientelism in political administration. I therefore probe how culturally specific and historically constructed visions of a socially stratified polity, newly introduced practices of market segmentation in politics, and the imperatives for participatory politics (set in motion with the institutional reforms of the 1990s) organize the spaces and practices of political participation along class lines.

I spent twelve months in my hometown of Bogotá, Colombia doing field research for this project during the congressional and presidential elections of 2010. I worked among a variety of networks: I did fieldwork among political strategists, political managers, politicians and their campaign teams; I worked as the coordinator of the international election observation missions for Misión de Observación Electoral (MOE) and I was an invited blogger for a website launched by major media conglomerates aimed at promoting open electoral information.

Democracy is messy and messy is beautiful.