Channeling the State: Community Media and Popular Politics in Venezuela.

AuthorSherman, John W.

Schiller, Naomi. Channeling the State: Community Media and Popular Politics in Venezuela. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018.

The early historiography on the 1998-2013 Chavista project in Venezuela has been broadly positive, a trend reflected in anthropologist Naomi Schiller's microstudy of media and the state. The basis of the book is the authors dissertation research under Bruce Grant at New York University, which included extensive fieldwork. A first stint in Venezuela saw the author observing telenovela-watching women in a small rural town, who cared little about the emerging government of Hugo Chavez; subsequent years were spent with the cadre of Catia TVe, a community television station located in a Caracas barrio that became politically wed to the Chavista project, partly through its interaction with ViVe TV, a much larger, state-funded outlet.

The intellectual recipe for Schiller's study is the familiar mainstream engaged by so many graduate students in contemporary anthropological and historical studies: large portions of James Scott and state formation theory, a smaller dose of Lila Abu-Lughod and media theory, a sprinkling of Gramsci, and a leavening of optimism about the human condition and prospects for a better world. But within this concoction Schiller's work is wholly microfocused on the thirty staff and roughly one hundred volunteers at the Catia TVe community center. Organizationally, she walks us through the formation of Catia TVe, which predated Chavez, and the stations pro-Chavez engagement of the 2006 election. She analyzes class dynamics--Catia TVe staff mostly from the urban working class, their Chavista interlocutors mainly middle class. She addresses gender, finding persistent barriers, despite many positive gains...

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