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Colombia Internacional

Print version ISSN 0121-5612


FERNANDES, Sujatha. Everyday Wars of Position: Social Movements and the Caracas Barrios in a Chávez Era. [online]. 2011, n.73, pp.71-90. ISSN 0121-5612.

This article identifies the ways that urban social movements in Caracas have sought to engage the hybrid state during the presidency of radical leftist leader Hugo Chávez. Chávez's election has created avenues for previously disenfranchised groups to participate in gover-nance and decision-making. The structures and discourses of exclusion are being contested in multiple arenas since Chávez has come to power. But, what lines of conflict are emerging as barrio-based movements demand inclusion in the state? In this article, I argue that as urban movements engage with the political arena, they come up against the instrumental rationalities-both liberal and neoliberal-of state administrators. Barrio-based social movements counter the utilitarian logics of technocrats with alternative visions based in "lo cotidiano" (the everyday), local culture and historical memory. We need to combine Foucault's insights about the operation of power through governmentality with Gramsci's insistence on practical politics, in order to account more fully for the contested nature of power. In this article, I suggest the reframing of a Gramscian notion of hegemony in a positive sense as "everyday wars of position," to think about the quotidian and subterranean spaces where technocrats are confronted with alternative visions from below. I use the example of com-munity media in Caracas to illustrate the ways that social movements engage with the state.

Keywords : barrios; social movements; hybrid State; community media.

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