Venezuela’s oil specter: Contextualizing and historicizing the Bolivarian attempt to sow the oil
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonHistory and Anthropology. 2020 10.1080/02757206.2020.1762588
Under the late Hugo Chávez’ rule in Venezuela, the country’s oil dependency was framed as a pernicious condition to overcome, at the same time as oil became a centerpiece for his social, political and symbolic nation-building project called ‘the Bolivarian process’. This article disentangles this multifaceted ambiguity through an exploration of how the near-90 years old Venezuelan political dictum of ‘sowing the oil’ was conceptualized under Chávez’ rule, situated within a historical analysis of the role of oil in Venezuela’s state formation, development trajectories and societal configurations throughout the twentieth century. Through entering into dialogue with the late Fernando Coronil’s extensive work on Venezuela, this article approaches Venezuela’s project of nation-building under Chávez as a reflection of the conditions and contradictions embedded in the country’s post-colonial, natural resource-exporting constitution. It is argued that a historical and structural analysis is indispensable for understanding the Bolivarian process’ conception and demise.