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The Magical State

Nature, Money, and Modernity in Venezuela

In 1935, after the death of dictator General Juan Vicente Gómez, Venezuela consolidated its position as the world’s major oil exporter and began to establish what today is South America’s longest-lasting democratic regime. Endowed with the power of state oil wealth, successive presidents appeared as transcendent figures who could magically transform Venezuela into a modern nation. During the 1974-78 oil boom, dazzling development projects promised finally to effect this transformation. Yet now the state must struggle to appease its foreign creditors, counter a declining economy, and contain a discontented citizenry. In critical dialogue with contemporary social theory, Fernando Coronil examines key transformations in Venezuela’s polity, culture, and economy, recasting theories of development and highlighting the relevance of these processes for other postcolonial nations. The result is a timely and compelling historical ethnography of political power at the cutting edge of interdisciplinary reflections on modernity and the state.

466 pages | 36 halftones, 4 line drawings, 20 tables | 6 x 9 | © 1997

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Latin American Studies

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: The Magical State and Occidentalism
Pt. I: Premiere - The Nature of the Nation: State Fetishism and Nationalism
1: History’s Nature
2: The Nation’s Two Bodies
Pt. II: Debut - Venezuelan Counterpoint: Dictatorship and Democracy
3: The Eighteenth Brumaire of Dictatorship
4: Constructing the Nation; The Nation as a Construct
5: The Twenty-third of January of Democracy
Pt. III: Revival - The Petrostate and the Sowing of Oil
6: The Motors Wars: The Engines of Progress
7: Mirages of El Dorado: The Death of a Tractor Factory
8: The Devil’s Excrement: Criminality and Sociality
Pt. IV: Sequel - Black Gold: Money Fetishism and Modernity
9: Harvesting the Oil: The Storm of Progress
10: Beyond Occidentalism: A Subaltern Modernity

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