Paper $27.50 ISBN: 9780226633732 Published July 2019
Cloth $82.50 ISBN: 9780226633565 Published July 2019
E-book $10.00 to $27.50 About E-books ISBN: 9780226633879 Published July 2019 Also Available From


Populism and the Press in Venezuela

Robert Samet


Robert Samet

232 pages | 10 halftones, 2 maps, 2 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2019
Paper $27.50 ISBN: 9780226633732 Published July 2019
Cloth $82.50 ISBN: 9780226633565 Published July 2019
E-book $10.00 to $27.50 About E-books ISBN: 9780226633879 Published July 2019
Since 2006, Venezuela has had the highest homicide rate in South America and one of the highest levels of gun violence in the world. Former president Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013, downplayed the extent of violent crime and instead emphasized rehabilitation. His successor, President Nicolás Maduro, took the opposite approach, declaring an all-out war on crime (mano dura). What accounts for this drastic shift toward more punitive measures?
In Deadline, anthropologist Robert Samet answers this question by focusing on the relationship between populism, the press, and what he calls “the will to security.” Drawing on nearly a decade of ethnographic research alongside journalists on the Caracas crime beat, he shows how the media shaped the politics of security from the ground up. Paradoxically, Venezuela’s punitive turn was not the product of dictatorship, but rather an outgrowth of practices and institutions normally associated with democracy. Samet reckons with this apparent contradiction by exploring the circulation of extralegal denuncias (accusations) by crime journalists, editors, sources, and audiences. Denuncias are a form of public shaming or exposé that channels popular anger against the powers that be. By showing how denuncias mobilize dissent, Deadline weaves a much larger tale about the relationship between the press, popular outrage, and the politics of security in the twenty-first century.

Introduction / Media and the Logic of Populism

One / Politics in the Chávez Era
Two / Crime Beat
Three / Crime City
Four / Malandro/Sano
Five / The Photographer’s Body
Six / Denouncers
Seven / Radicals and Reformers
Eight / The Subject of Wrongs
Conclusion / The Will to Security

Works Cited
Review Quotes
Dominic Boyer, Rice University
Deadline is a gripping study of the media practices that shape and mold the protean effects of populism. The focus is Venezuela, a petrostate that fervently crystallized global neoliberal discontent in the theatrics of chavismo even as the populist movement became wreathed in increasing violence and social instability. Samet provides an engrossing, insightful analysis of this situation that will contribute to timely discussions about populism, assumptions about democracy, and the politics of journalism.”
Winifred Tate, Colby College
“An important work of Latin American scholarship, Deadline is nuanced, timely, and exceptionally well written. With this ethnographically rich and theoretically innovative book, Samet gives us a major contribution to the fields of media studies and political anthropology, and to the study of Venezuela.”
Bulletin of Spanish Studies
"In a crowded field, Robert Samet’s Deadline: Populism and the Press in Venezuela stands out as an original addition to scholarship on Venezuela under Chávez...[It] challenges us to re-think the relationship between populism, the media and security policy. It demonstrates the link between crime reporting and the construction of a shared identity of crime victimhood. The constructed identity that emerges has spurred aright-wing populist backlash. These themes are of interest well beyond Venezuela."

New England Council of Latin American Studies: Marysa Navarro Book Prize

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