Cover of Raising Two Fists by Roosbelinda Cárdenas
Raising Two Fists
Struggles for Black Citizenship in Multicultural Colombia
Roosbelinda Cárdenas


February 2024
274 pages.
from $30.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503613799
Paperback ISBN: 9781503635807
Ebook ISBN: 9781503635814

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Raising Two Fists is a historically grounded ethnography of Afro-Colombian political mobilization after the multicultural turn that swept Latin America in the 1990s, when states began to recognize and legally enshrine rights for Afro-descendants. Roosbelinda Cárdenas explores three major strategies that Afro-Colombians' developed in their struggles against racialized dispossession—the defense of culturally specific livelihoods through the creation of Black Territories; the demand for differential reparations for Afro-Colombian war victims; and the fight for inclusion in Colombia's peace negotiations and post-conflict rebuilding—illustrating how they engage in this work both as participants of organized political movements and in their everyday lives.

Although rights-based claims to the state have become necessary and pragmatic tools in the intersecting struggles for racial, economic, and social justice, Cárdenas argues that they continue to be ineffective due to Colombia's entrenched colonial racial hierarchies. She shows that while Afro-Colombians pursue rights-based claims, they also forge African Diasporic solidarities and protect the flourishing of their lives outside of the frame of rights, and with or without the state's sanction—a "two-fisted" strategy for Black citizenship.

About the author

Roosbelinda Cárdenas is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice – CUNY.

"Black peace is truly about a life without fear. In this book, Roosbelinda Cárdenas gets at the center of it. As she analyzes Black struggles for justice in Colombia, she tells the history of how we have built a Politics of Life."

—Francia Márquez, Vice-President of Colombia

"Raising Two Fists offers a necessary corrective to the lingering ideas of multiculturalism and mestizaje and locates these discussions on systemic gendered racism in a Black diasporic perspective on rights, autonomy, and citizenship. Cárdenas makes a strong argument that Afro-Colombian diasporic knowledge and politics informs constructions of Black Colombians as part of a global Black community always engaged in struggle."

—Keisha-Khan Y. Perry, The University of Pennsylvania

"Cárdenas's brilliant analysis wonderfully combines national and diasporic frames to reveal how black Colombians confront anti-black racism and genocidal violence; and how they work with, and go beyond, a politics of victimhood in their struggle to gain full—but also Black—citizenship and to vivir sabroso—live without fear."

—Peter Wade, University of Manchester