Ethnicity and Territory: Cultural and Political Autonomy for African Descended Colombians through Law 70
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Open Access Thesis
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Colombia has the second largest African descendant population in all South America due to the transatlantic slave trade that stripped millions from their homeland and brought them to present day Colombia. While African descendants have been a part of the region’s history for over five centuries, it was not until 1993 with the establishment of Law 70 that the Colombian government acknowledged the culture and rights of African descendants. This thesis analyzes the historical, social, and political underpinnings of Law 70, its implementation, and aftereffects. I argue that Law 70 acknowledges a lived identity of rural African descended Colombians as the mechanism for Black communities to obtain rights. The thesis addresses the deep connection between ethnicity and territory, and how Law 70 recognizes that, for rural African descendants, ancestry, culture, and territory, cannot be separated. Law 70 codified a legal transition from a racial to an ethnic frame, which was necessary for African descendants to live their difference and be recognized by the nation.