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Dr. Marcela López

Institut für Geographische Wissenschaften

Fachrichtung Anthropogeographie

Themenbereich "Governance - Nachhaltige Entwicklung - Gender"


12249 Berlin




Short Biography


Dissertation an der Freien Universität Berlin:

Contested Urban Waterscapes: Water, Power and Urban Fragmentation in Medellin, Colombia

2007 - 2010

M.Sc. International Integrated Urban Studies (Bauhaus-Universität Weimar)

2008 - 2009

Auslandssemester an der  School of Architecture and Urban Planning (CAUP) der Tongji Universität Shanghai, China

2005 - 2006

Bauhaus Kolleg VII "UN Urbanism", Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau

2003 - 2005

M.Sc. Urban Environmental Management (Wageningen Universität, Niederlande)

1995 - 2000

B.Sc. Environmental Engineering (Escuela de Ingeniería de Antioquia, Kolumbien)


Praktica and Job Experiences

4/2008 - 3/2009

Adelphi Research (Berlin) Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) in North Lebanon

5-9/2005 und  8/2006 - 8/2007

Participatory Development Plans for Medellín’s peripheries, Ecological and Cultural NGO Penca de Sabila (Medellín, Kolumbien)  

8-12/ 2004

International Ranger Program, Parks Victoria (Victoria, Australia)

6/1999 - 7/2000

Freiwilligeneinsatz beim Wiederaufbau der Gemeinde La Tebaida nach einem Erdbeben, NGO Antioquia Presente (La Tebaida, Kolumbien)

Research Topics

  • Political ecology
  • Neoliberalization of nature
  • Urban geography
  • Water governance


Title: Contested Urban Waterscapes: Water, Power and Urban Fragmentation in Medellin, Colombia

Abstract: My research explores how access to water has become a crucial terrain over which market-driven logics are both consolidated and contested. Drawing on case study research conducted in Medellín, Colombia, this study investigates the paradoxical situation of rapid emergence of the city's water company as a multilatina (regional multinational company) on the one hand, and the increasing number of households disconnected from the formal water supply networks particularly in low-income areas, on the other hand. By bringing together work on urban political ecology and neoliberalisation of nature, this research illustrates not only how neoliberal principles constitute uneven urban waterscapes based on particular arrangements of nature, society and infrastructure, but also how the agency and materiality of water challenges these new socio-natural configurations. Going beyond mainstream assumptions that narrowly interpret water disconnection as a poverty trap or as a technical-managerial problem, I argue that a complex interplay between sustainability discourses, notions of citizenship and technological infrastructures deployed by the water company has become utterly instrumental to the production and reproduction of water inequalities. For low-income households in particular, much is at stake as these socio-nature configurations determine not only how their lives will be affected but also how alternatives and solutions can be mobilized and implemented.


Working Papers

Articles in Magazines

  • López, Marcela. 2014. Que es lo Público de Empresas Publicas de Medellín? Agua. Bien Común 2: 4-10.
  • López, Marcela; Kuc, Miodrag and Naranjo, Juan. 2013. The Human Right to Water? From Continuous Flow to Prepaid Drops. ARCH+ 213: 102-105.
  • López, Marcela and Kuc, Miodrag. 2009. Medellín “El Hueco” as a Public Space. Gestión y Ambiente Magazine 12 (1): 131-146.
  • Gonzalez, Gabriel, Gomez, Carmen, López, Marcela and Kuc, Miodrag. 2009. Sichuan Hot Pot “New Life in Sichuan after Earthquake”. Urban China Magazine 36: 64-67.

Book Chapters

  • López, Marcela. 2011. Participatory Planning in Conflict: the Case Study of Medellín, Colombia. In Colini, L. and Eckardt, F. (Hrg.) Bauhaus and the City: a Contested Heritage for a Challenging Future, pp. 55-63. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann.
  • López, Marcela. 2010. Card Game and City Guide for Mostar. In Bittner, R., Hackenbroich, W. and Vockler, K. (Hrg), UN Urbanism, pp. 173-177. Berlin: Jovis Verlag.


Waterscapes: forms, meanings and transformations. 2014. Gallery of Contemporary Art Paul Bardwell at the Colombo Americano, Medellín-Colombia 07 Abril-14 May. Available [http://corpenca.org/2014/paisajeshidricos/]


Second Category. 2013. ARCH+ and the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation: International Competition “Out of Balance – Kritik der Gegenwart. Information Design nach Otto Neurath”. From Continuous Flow to Prepaid Drops: Medellín Uneven Waterscape. Available [http://www.archplus.net/home/archiv/artikel/46,4076,1,0.html]


  • López, Marcela, 2014. “Out of the network out of the game: Reclaiming citizenship through access to water in Medellín”. International Conference Putting Public in Public Services: Research, Action and Equity in the Global South, Cape Town-South Africa 13-16 April. Available [http://www.municipalservicesproject.org/userfiles/Lopez_OutofNetworkOutofGame_ReclaimingCitizenship_Medellin.pdf]
  • López, Marcela, 2014. “Paisajes de desconexión: Agua, poder e informalidad en Medellín, Colombia”. Faculty of Administration at Universidad de los Andes, Bogota-Colombia 6 March.
  • López, Marcela, 2013. “Paisajes de desconexión: Agua, poder e informalidad en Medellín, Colombia”. Embassy of Colombia in Berlin. Germany 17 July.
  • López, Marcela, 2012. “Informal Practices in Medellín’s Neoliberal Waterscape”. Workshop Spatial Informality in the Urban Waterscape. UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education Delft. The Netherlands 4-5 December.
  • López, Marcela, 2012. "Landscapes of disconnection: water, power and informality in Medellín, Colombia". Arbeitskreis Lateinamerika: Zwischenräume, Interdisziplinäre Dialog zu Lateinamerika. desiguALdades.net und Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut. Berlin-Germany 9-10 November.
  • López, Marcela, 2012. “Transnational connections and local disconnections: water, power and urban fragmentation in Medellín, Colombia”. WorkshopExtraktivismus in Lateinamerika: Konturen, Auswirkungen und Alternativen. Promotionskolleg Global Social Policies and Governance an der Universität Kassel, 21 - 22 May.
  • López, Marcela, 2011 “Transregional connections and local disconnections: re-scaling water supply services and the reproduction of social and spatial inequalities in Medellín, Colombia”. International Seminar Derechos Colectivos y del Ambiente. Medellín-Colombia 27 November.
  • López, Marcela, 2011. “Scarcity despite of Abundance: the Political Ecology of Water Disconnection in Medellín, Colombia”. Workshop “Geographies of inequality in Latin America – Socio-economic, cultural, political and environmental dimensions”. Geographisches Institut der Universität Kiel, Germany 29 Abril-1 May.
  • López, Marcela, 2009. “Participatory Planning in Conflict: the Case Study of Medellín”. International Symposium Futu.re City–Futu.re Bauhaus. Bauhaus Universität Weimar, Germany 4-6 November.
  • López, Marcela, 2009. “The North Lebanon Case: A Participatory Approach to Achieve a Sustainable Future.” 8th International Symposium - Parallel Patterns of Urban Growth and Decline. Technische Universität Kaiserslautern, Germany 23-26 March.
  • López, Marcela, 2009. “Coastal Zone Management in North Lebanon: A Participatory Approach Towards Sustainable Development”. 9th International Model Project Forum European Urban Studies- Planning in a Time of Crisis? Current projects in Urbanism. Bauhaus Universität Weimar, Germany 25–27 February.
  • López, Marcela, 2006. “Card Game and City Guide for Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina”. Workshop International City Mostar. Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Bosnia and Herzegovina 12-13 June.