Impacts of (de)territorialization on processes of subjectivation: migratory experiences of Venezuelan refugee women in Bogotá

Forced Migration, Territorialization, Community and Social Belonging

by Núbia Vale Rodrigues, Isabela Saraiva de Queiroz, Aida Milena Cabrera Lozano

This proposal, anchored on Critical Social Psychology and decolonial studies, aims to analyze the impacts on the processes of subjectivation of Venezuelan women who, being part of the recent intense migratory flow, are confronted with a movement of (de)territorialization. We recognize as a fundamental starting point the voice of mutilated subjects who have been historically silenced, in this case, migrant women.

The marks inserted in the subjectivity of being a Latin-American woman are added to the conditions of being a migrant, which intensifies the aspects of vulnerability. Our research field was the city of Bogotá, which received the largest number of Venezuelan migrants in the last period. The presence in field was made possible by an academic exchange carried out in the second half of 2019 by a partnership between Brazilian and Colombian universities, in this case Universidade Federal de São João del-Rei and Universidad Santo Tomás. A partnership was signed with the Centro de Atención al Migrante, which receives UNHCR projects. After monitoring the daily dynamic of the institution, narrative interviews were conducted with seven women, based on a script of topics that would lead the interviewees to produce elaborations about the phenomenon they were experiencing. In addition, about thirty diaries were produced in a book in progress that plays between prose and poetry, entitled “Diary of Navigation: between home and refuge”, as a register of the experience of the undergraduate researcher in field as also a Latin-American woman abroad.

We identified six major themes in the narratives: life before leaving the place of origin, motivation for leaving, traffic at the border, arrival at the place of destination, adaptation and integration, and impacts generated by the migration process. Refuge in its most everyday meaning refers to a place that offers shelter and support, an escape. In the context of seeking refuge for these and so many other women, the intention remained, but the reality was far from welcoming. In these trajectories, the moments of acceptance were scarce and fragile, characterized by four big scars: (de)territorialization, impacts on the identity construction, specificities of the feminization of migration, and xenophobia. Leaving a risky scenario and finding a new roof in a new place does not mean finding home. Consequences of the exodus involved “leaving everything” like so many said, vulnerability scenarios, loneliness, the struggle for conditions of existence and resistance, identity metamorphoses and the construction of narratives that give meaning to the challenges that emerge on the new path. Such results drive us to reflect on the journeys to refuge, the violence embedded in the roots of Latin-American land, and the exclusion that sustains a hypocritical globalization, in which money and goods circulate freely, while society keeps selecting those who will sit for the banquet. To rescue these stories is to insist on the discovery of deviation paths and new maps that no longer need to lead anyone in search for refuges.


Núbia Vale Rodrigues

Undergraduate student in Psychology at the Federal University of São João del-Rei (UFSJ), Brazil, part of the studies of the Group of Studies in Gender, Race and Human Rights (NEGAH).

Isabela Saraiva de Queiroz

Professor of the Graduate Program in Psychology at UFSJ and coordinator of NEGAH.

Aida Milena Cabrera Lozano

Professor at the Psychology Department at Universidad Santo Tomás, Colombia, and coordinator of research group “Jajebëam Paz: making memories visible, transforming silences”.

Currently, the authors continue with another research on the experience of professionals in the service network for the migrant population in Brazil.