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Title: To the school and back : intercultural education, identity construction and Pemón-state relationships in southeastern Venezuela
Author: Garcia Bonet, Natalia
ISNI:       0000 0004 7227 916X
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis explores the relationship between the state and Pemon people of La Gran Sabana, in Southeastern Venezuela, through the lens of state-driven projects such as bilingual intercultural education and extractivism. I examine these relationships in the light of two broader twenty-first century processes; one global- multiculturalism and the paradigm of intercultural education- and one national- Hugo Chávez's Bolivarian Revolution. The Bolivarian government has probably lead the most effective project of state expansion in Venezuelan modern history, reaching out to the most peripheral areas of the nation and incorporating their population into the Venezuelan State. Throughout this thesis I argue that despite the Revolution's claims to celebrate internal diversity and pluralism, this process of state expansion has been driven by an extractivist agenda, associated with two different, yet complementary, commercial extractive projects; oil and gold. As such, its ultimate aim remains to ensure the state's control over the territory, and the resources on it, by establishing control over its inhabitants. The collapse between the state and indigenous people enacted in the Revolution's dominant discourse, therefore, outlines new forms of 'national indigeneity', and has the effect of prescribing people's possibilities to lay claims both to a Venezuelan citizenship and to 'legitimate' indigenous identities. Within such broad global predicaments, my research engages with key debates in anthropology about the relationships between Amerindian groups and the state, in terms of representation, interculturality and identity politics, illustrating how local responses to the processes of state expansion reflect complex interactions between multiple elements; gender, personal trajectories and identity construction, for example. The thesis also engages with the Lowland South American and Latin American literature about Amerindian strategies for counteracting the state's centralising (predatory) action, by outlining the multilateral, sometimes contradictory responses of local actors to the consecutive expansions and contractions of the state's extractivist and administrative frontiers. As the cases narrated in this thesis demonstrate, some individuals have actively sought to increase their political participation, embracing the opportunities for enfranchisement provided by the revolutionary government. Others have opted instead for a 'partial' retreat from the state's foregoing expansive motion. I argue that these movements towards reversal are associated with the state's inability to act as redistributor of resources and, as such, are the result of the general political and economic crises facing the country in the last few years.
Supervisor: Peluso, Daniela ; Alexiades, Miguel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral