skip to content

Supervisor: Dr Felipe Hernández



Research overview:

This research explores how urban planning and spatial politics in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, directly or indirectly influence the lives of people who exchange sexual services for money; and how their presence in premium real estate public space raises political and moral questions that subvert social contracts. By considering three academic concepts: coloniality, whiteness and patriarchy, the project seeks to diagnose the territorialization and architecture of past and current policies for economic and tourism development, to see how they obstruct access to housing, infrastructure, institutional services, education, and upward mobility to this group. >

The urban segregation and marginalization experienced by most people who perform paid sexual activities, along with the stigmatization of their work, frequently leads to different types of direct and structural violence. Through ethnographic work, and the analysis of existing data, institutional and governmental initiatives, local projects and organizations—especially those that regulate and mandate public and private spaces—the project questions how current territorial policies like the POT (plan for territorial ordainment) and the police code, improve or aggravate these conditions; and seeks recommendations directly informed by people who voluntarily engage in sex work, both in Cartagena and in other contexts, for improvements or new perspectives.



Mariana graduated as an architect from Los Andes University in Bogotá, Colombia (2012), and holds a Master’s in Design Studies from the Harvard Graduate School of Design in the Urbanism, Landscape, Ecology concentration (2016). Before coming to Cambridge, Mariana lived in Colombia where she worked in urban planning and the improvement of public spaces in informal settlements in Cartagena, Colombia. Mariana’s current PhD studies are being funded by a Cambridge Trust & King's College Scholarship.