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Photo: Gildardo Taborda Henao

I was born in Riosucio, a small town in the Colombian Andean region located in Caldas province.

Riosucio DJI_0234 copia.jpg

Photo: Gildardo Taborda Henao

My mother and my aunts were all high school teachers, but they also worked in family stores. My father’s family were farmers, and we had a small farm where we produced a couple of thousands of eggs every day and grew fruits and vegetables of many kinds. We also had an agricultural supply store. When I was 8 years old, I began working on the farm and in the store and learned and became very interested in the lives of agricultural workers and their economies.


Riosucio’s population was more than 80% Indigenous people from the Embera-Chami ethnic group. However, despite their large majority over the mestizo population there was a vast social, economic and infrastructure gap between my Indigenous classmates living in rural areas and the rest of us, primarily mestizos, living in the urban core.


When I was 15, I left to medical school in Medellin and lived there for seven years. My medical studies coincided with the most violent period of the narco-trafficking war in the 1990s, and Medellin was its epicenter. Through medical school and my ten years of medical practice in Colombia in urban and rural areas I saw and experienced the effects of armed conflict on the bodies and souls of people. I left Colombia to join my family in Boston, Massachusetts, where we migrated fleeing violence.


Five years later, I relocated again to Canada. In Canada I began re-training to become an anthropologist. This journey of learning and research has allowed to me more deeply explore questions of conflict, migration, economic inequities and more in Colombia and beyond.

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Photo: Gildardo Taborda Henao

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