Channeling the State

Community Media and Popular Politics in Venezuela

Book Pages: 296 Illustrations: 18 illustrations Published: October 2018

Author: Naomi Schiller

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Latin American Studies > Andes, Media Studies > Communication

Venezuela's most prominent community television station, Catia TVe, was launched in 2000 by activists from the barrios of Caracas. Run on the principle that state resources should serve as a weapon of the poor to advance revolutionary social change, the station covered everything from Hugo Chávez’s speeches to barrio residents' complaints about bureaucratic mismanagement. In Channeling the State, Naomi Schiller explores how and why Catia TVe's founders embraced alliances with Venezuelan state officials and institutions. Drawing on long-term ethnographic research among the station's participants, Schiller shows how community television production created unique openings for Caracas's urban poor to embrace the state as a collective process with transformative potential. Rather than an unchangeable entity built for the exercise of elite power, the state emerges in Schiller's analysis as an uneven, variable process and a contentious terrain where institutions are continuously made and remade. In Venezuela under Chávez, media activists from poor communities did not assert their autonomy from the state but rather forged ties with the middle class to question whose state they were constructing and who it represented.


"In this era of fake news and cascading global crises, Naomi Schiller's Channeling the State couldn't be more timely. Schiller, based on extensive fieldwork in Caracas barrios during the height of Bolivarianismo's popularity, has written the definitive account of the crucial role community television plays as the besieged Bolivarian state struggles to reclaim its original idealism. Schiller's analysis of everyday forms of 'free speech' is lucid, intelligent, and convincing. Channeling the State is a tour de force that provides a model for how to do holistic political ethnography, one that focuses not on social movements nor state bureaucracies but on the mutually constitutive relationship between the two." — Greg Grandin, author of The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World

"In this engrossing and lively ethnography, Naomi Schiller takes us deep into the world of community television production in the era of Hugo Chávez. She shows how barrio-based Catia TVe made available new ways for media producers to shape the Bolivarian project in the interests of poor people. Channeling the State is an important contribution to the literature on social change under Chávez and a valuable resource for understanding modes of popular participation." — Sujatha Fernandes, author of Who Can Stop the Drums? Urban Social Movements in Chávez’s Venezuela


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Naomi Schiller is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Brooklyn College, City University of New York.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface  ix
Acknowledgments  xiii
Introduction  1
1. State-Media Relations and the Rise of Catia TVe  23
2. Community Media as Everyday State Formation  62
3. Class Acts  89
4. Channeling Chávez  128
5. Mediating Women  164
6. Reckoning with Press Freedom  196
Conclusion  227
Notes  241
References  251
Index  269
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0144-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0111-9
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