Is Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution under Hugo Chávez truly revolutionary? Most books and articles tend to view the Chávez government in an either-or fashion. Some see the president as the shining knight of twenty-first-century socialism, while others see him as an avenging Stalinist strongman. Despite passion on both sides, the Chávez government does not fall easily into a seamless fable of emancipatory or authoritarian history, as these essays make clear.
A range of distinguished authors consider the nature of social change in contemporary Venezuela and explore a number of themes that help elucidate the sources of the nation’s political polarization. The chapters range from Fernando Coronil’s “Bolivarian Revolution,” which examines the relationship between the state’s social body (its population) and its natural body (its oil reserves), to an insightful look at women’s rights by Cathy A. Rakowski and Gioconda Espina. This volume shows that, while the future of the national process is unclear, the principles elaborated by the Chávez government are helping articulate a new Latin American left.
Thomas Ponniah and Jonathan Eastwood have produced an engaging and profoundly thought-provoking collection of essays on Venezuela’s process of political and social change under the late President Hugo Chávez. The volume rises above the simplistic, and often sterile, debates over democracy versus authoritarianism, and capitalism versus socialism that Venezuela’s polarized politics all too frequently elicit. Instead, its high quality analytic and theoretically-driven essays explore the consequences of Venezuela’s political experiment for institutions and individuals in all of their complex, multidimensional, and contradictory nature. In carefully selecting essays that reflect the gamut of political positions, the editors invite us to confront our preconceptions, move past them, and draw our own conclusions about the impact, meaning, and legacy of Venezuela’s ‘revolution.’
This excellent book makes an important contribution to the scholarly debate on the meaning of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution since the democratic election of Hugo Chávez to the presidency in 1998. While some scholars depict the Chávez regime as autocratic and undemocratic, others view Chávez’s Venezuela as embodying 21st-century participatory democracy and socialism. Eastwood and Ponniah have assembled a collection of high-quality, well-researched essays in an attempt to overcome the polarized nature of academic debates on Chávez’s Venezuela… This pathbreaking book shows that the Venezuelan experience with 21st century socialism transcends the country’s borders by planting the seeds of an alternative modernity.
- 344 pages
- 6 x 9 inches
- David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies
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