THE LEFT-TURN OF MULTICULTURALISM: INDIGENOUS AND AFRODESCENDANT SOCIAL MOVEMENTS IN NORTHWESTERN VENEZUELA
AdvisorAlonso, Ana Maria
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation explores the impact of multiculturalism on the relationship between ethno-racial social movements and the Venezuelan State. It assesses movements´s capacity to achieve recognition and redistribution within a State embracing anti-neoliberal multicultural discourses and policies.I conducted a comparative ethnographic study of two ethno-racial movements in northwestern Venezuela - the Ayamán-turero indigenous organization located in Lara state and the Afrodescendant movement in Yaracuy state. In order to explain the contemporary variations of these movements´s strategic capacities, I proposed the concept of mobilizing habitii - which I defined as the multilayered dispositions, practices, perceptions, and values orienting social mobilization. I argue that the mobilizing habitii of social organizations can be explored by examining their collective actions frames, strategic actions, and habitual practices. Historical evidence suggests that Ayamán mobilizing habitii have been characterized by strategies of avoidance, while Afroyaracuyan mobilizing dispositions have been shaped by their direct engagement with the State.My comparative research also suggests that Afroyaracuyan people from Veroes have managed to engage in successful territorial struggles, involving effective land redistribution. In contrast, Ayamán people have focused their efforts on reproducing State cultural performances and local ritual practices. However access to material resources, still remains limited for this indigenous population, and almost impossible to achieve through ethno-racial forms of mobilization.My comparative endeavor also shows how the Venezuela multicultural project represents a significant rupture with other Latin American neoliberal multicultural projects. Since 2006, the Venezuelan State has been indigenized, by representing indigenous peoples as the "seeds" and "holders" of the socialist project. The State has institutionalized some indigenous organizations by controlling their resources and by politicizing some leaders. Paradoxically, afrodescendant peoples have remained at the legal margins of this process, facing the ideological barriers of the myths of racial democracy and mestizaje.My conclusions suggest, that ethnic recognition in Bolivarian Venezuela ensures limited redistribution of material resources, while it simultaneously re-essentializes ethno-racial categories and produces new subjectivities. In other words, ethno-racial mobilization is limited for achieving substantial material resources, even in States which are implementing anti-neoliberal multicultural policies.
Degree ProgramGraduate College