Last week, sociology professor Salvador Vidal-Ortiz was awarded a Fulbright to fund a research and teaching project in Bogotá, Colombia, in spring 2011.
Vidal-Ortiz will use the opportunity to study sexual migration patterns to Bogotá. It is an area of scholarship that is largely absent from the current literature about the area's various displaced populations.
Vidal-Ortiz hypothesizes that the sexual migration patterns in Bogotá are the result of "push/pull factors"—migratory dynamics that both push people away from their current location and pull them toward a new one.
"My sense is that, like in other urban sites around the world, LGBT folks go to Bogotá because they imagine it to be somewhere that is open, that is friendly, that is gay-positive, where they can have a LGBT identity and not have to struggle with hostile elements," he explains. "At the same time, because there is so much conflict in Colombia, I also want to see if some of these activists were very vocal in small towns but were forced to leave because of their political identification with LGBT or their affiliation with sexual minority groups."
During his semester in Bogotá, Vidal-Ortiz aims to conduct 50 interviews with LGBT activists focused on why they have chosen to live in the city. Once he has collected these narratives, he will be joined by a select group of Colombian scholars and graduate students. Together, they will interpret what the interviews reveal about both sexual migration patterns in Bogotá and, on a larger scale, the role of activist discourses on local and global human rights politics—more specifically, whether the activists frame their movement with international human rights tones or with more localized strategies. This shared process of data analysis and article publication will introduce a Latin American perspective to the interpretations and foster circulation of their conclusions in both the United States and Latin America.
In addition to this research, Vidal-Ortiz will teach a section of Gender, Sexuality, and Migration—the popular graduate seminar course that he created at AU—at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, in Bogotá.