Juanita Rodríguez is a PhD candidate in History at Binghamton University, New York. She is currently working on her dissertation concerning the visual narratives of the Agrarian Reform in Colombia, 1950s–1970s and is the current Graduate Assistant to the Latin American and Caribbean Area Studies Program (LACAS) at Binghamton University. She holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in History from Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia. Her research interests focus on Latin American and Caribbean History, Visual Culture and Museum Studies, and Public History.
The visual propaganda of the Agrarian Reform project got influences from the rural sociology methodology, such as that followed by Fals Borda in Saucío in the 1950s, which focused on highlighting changes in the community, so that local and national spectators would construct an idea of what a modern peasant would look like and how they would behave.
Orlando Fals Borda, a renowned Colombian sociologist, who worked for both the academia and the government from the 1950s to 90s, wrote two works on Colombian peasantry and its relation with big landowners that were published with a selection of photographs of peasants, landowners, and grassroots movements. These works and their images have had an impact on the construction of peasant- and landowner visual icons in recent Colombian history, as they have been used in books, primers, and exhibitions since their creation, and they had a crucial influence on the visual propaganda of the Agrarian Reform project in Colombia. As a result of Fals’s fieldwork, there are two photograph collections kept at two institutions in Colombia that have organized and catalogued the images: The Central Bank in Montería and the National University in Bogotá. These institutions are prime creators of the visual memory of rural Colombia and I analyze Fals’s fieldwork as part of a jigsaw puzzle in which peasants, landowners, and intellectuals, like Fals, both consumed and created visual icons of land, rurality, and peasantry in Colombia’s recent history.