Theses Doctoral

The Art of the Hustle: A Study of the Rap Music Industry in Bogota, Colombia

Bunting-Hudson, Laura Lynn

How do rap artists in Bogota, Colombia come together to make music? What is the process they take to commodify their culture? Why are some rappers able to become socially mobile in this process, while others are less so? What is technology’s role in all of this? This ethnography explores those questions, as it carefully documents the strategies utilized by various rap groups in Bogota, Colombia to create social mobility, commoditize products and to create a different vision of modernity within the hip-hop community, as an alternative to the ideals set forth by mainstream Colombian society. Resistance Art Poetry (RAP), is said to have originated in the United States but has become a form of international music. In conducting ethnographic research from December of 2012 to October 2014, I was able to discover how rappers organize themselves politically, how they commoditize their products and distribute them to create various types of social mobilities.
In this dissertation, I constructed models to typologize rap groups in Bogota, Colombia, which I call polities of rappers to discuss how these groups come together, take shape, make plans and execute them to reach their business goals. I was also able to document the inconsistencies, problems and negotiations that the members of these entities encountered as they attempted to become successful musicians in the current global economic environment. This dissertation offers explicit details of how the rap musicians in the polities under study, were able to utilize their social networks in the process of commodifying their products for distribution in the hip-hop market place. I also tackle current academic discussions about how the rappers use digital technologies to assist them with this process. Engaging with concepts from economic anthropology, social mobility literature, political economy and globalization studies, the findings here demonstrate various entrepreneurial strategies utilized by rap musicians in this location.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Anthropology and Education
Thesis Advisors
Varenne, Herve H.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 23, 2017