This spring, we’re excited to spotlight the Hispanic American Historical Review (HAHR), a field-defining journal of Latin American history. This week, HAHR offers a thematic reading list curated by Scott Doebler. All articles are freely available online through the end of August.
Venezuela’s ongoing political drama, popular protests, sustained humanitarian crisis, and growing diaspora have captured the world’s attention. The starkness of the current crisis contrasts markedly with what was until recently a wealthy economy buoyed by colossal oil reserves.
The current political convulsions are far from singular in Venezuela’s history; HAHR has published numerous articles about popular protests throughout Latin America, including many in Venezuela’s history. Presented here are four such articles that explore different outpourings of popular protest in Latin America against the powers that be—some violent, some peaceful, and some a complicated mixture.
The authors investigate the individual conditions that provoked the contestations, often placing them within larger national and global contexts. The articles not only showcase varied local situations spaced over centuries, thus transcending the “colonial” and “modern” divide, but they also represent changing interpretations of popular protests themselves and their role in society.
“Civil Disorders and Popular Protests in Late Colonial New Granada” by Anthony McFarlane (1984)
Written as the social history turn was in full swing, McFarlane investigates who participated in “civil disorders” and why by focusing on lesser-known (at the time) challenges to aspects of colonial rule.
“Indian Rebellion and Bourbon Reform in New Granada: Riots in Pasto, 1780–1800” by Rebecca Earle (1993)
This study of two rebellions at the turn of the nineteenth century looks at the weakness of state control over distant populations and their continued expectation of autonomy.
“Public Land Settlement, Privatization, and Peasant Protest in Duaca, Venezuela, 1870–1936” by Doug Yarrington (1994)
Focusing on understudied Duaca, Venezuela, Yarrington follows changing land ownership patterns and its consequences.
“‘A Weapon as Powerful as the Vote’: Urban Protest and Electoral Politics in Venezuela, 1978–1983” by Alejandro Velasco (2010)
This article examines how popular sectors held democracy accountable for representing their interests by hijacking public property.
For additional background reading on Venezuela, check out some of our books on its history and politics. We Created Chávez by George Ciccariello-Maher tells the history of Venezuelan politics from below, explaining how militants, students, women, Afro-indigeneous peoples, and the working-class brought about Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution and, ultimately, brought Hugo Chávez to power. In Channeling the State, Naomi Schiller explores how community television in Venezuela created openings for the urban poor to embrace the state as a collective process with the potential for creating positive social change. Looking beyond Hugo Chávez and the national government, contributors to Venezuela’s Bolivarian Democracy, edited by David Smilde and Daniel Hellinger, examine forms of democracy involving ordinary Venezuelans: in communal councils, cultural activities, blogs, community media, and other forums. The Enduring Legacy by Miguel Tinker Salas is a history of the oil industry’s rise in Venezuela focused especially on the experiences and perceptions of industry employees, both American and Venezuelan.
We also have some titles on Venezuela’s culture. Marcia Ochoa’s Queen for a Day considers how femininities are produced, performed, and consumed on the runways of the Miss Venezuela contest and on the well-traveled Caracas avenue where transgender women (transformistas) project themselves into the urban imaginary. Sujatha Fernandes’s Who Can Stop the Drums is a vivid ethnography of social movements in the barrios, or poor shantytowns, of Caracas, Venezuela. And The Fernando Coronil Reader is a posthumous collection of the Venezuelan anthropologist’s most important work that highlights his deep concern with the global South, Latin American state formation, theories of nature, empire and postcolonialism, and anthrohistory as an intellectual and ethical approach.
Top image: A protester wearing an Anonymous mask and lifting a Venezuelan flag, March 16, 2014. Photo by Jamez42. Licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication. (Find the original here.)