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Title:We are the state! Grassroots participation in Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution
Author(s):Valencia, Christopher A.
Director of Research:Lugo, Alejandro
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Lugo, Alejandro
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Orta, Andrew; Rosas, Gilberto; Torres, Arlene
Department / Program:Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
social movements
bolivarian revolution
Abstract:This dissertation focuses on the role of grassroots political participation in processes of state formation and in establishing democracy in Venezuela. It examines the race, class, and gender experiences of ordinary citizenry through their participation in politics, including the meanings they attach to the state and democracy. As such, it critically interrogates the nature of the relationships of grassroots organizations and their participants with the government and the larger state apparatus. This dissertation is based on 18-months of ethnographic research on the experiences of supporters of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez Frías, the Chavistas. More specifically it is based on participant observation, including living in squatter settlements (barrios), in two south Caracas parishes and nearby Afrovenezuelan communities. This dissertation is an ethnographic account and analysis of the shifting relationships of power, political practices, and social relationships amongst the Chavistas, the Chávez government, and the opposition within the context of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution. It argues that the Chavistas are a diverse social movement and a driving force behind a revolution that seeks to transform the state into a socio-political entity that acts through rather than above civil society. Additionally, this dissertation attempts to demonstrate that for the Chavistas, the state equals civil society, democracy is social justice, and political participation is social work. Theoretically, it is proposed here that a civil society/state binary limits our understandings of and ability to establish democracy, an endeavor that necessitates the ethnographic examination of relationships between social movements and states in processes of state formation.
Issue Date:2011-08-25
Rights Information:Copyright 2011 Christopher Valencia
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-08-25
Date Deposited:2011-08

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