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‘Oil that Harvests Culture’: state, oil and culture in Petrosocialism (Venezuela, 2007-2013)

Plaza, P. (2016) ‘Oil that Harvests Culture’: state, oil and culture in Petrosocialism (Venezuela, 2007-2013). PhD thesis, City, University of London

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This thesis develops a story about Venezuela as an oil state and the way it deploys its policies to instrumentalise culture and urban space. It examines the way the Petrostate is imagined in speeches, how it manifests physically in space and how it is discursively constructed in adverts. By engaging with the work of Henri Lefebvre, Bob Jessop and George Yúdice, the thesis sets out to challenge the disciplinary compartmentalisation of the analysis of the material and cultural effects of oil to demonstrate that within the extractive logic of the Petrostate and the oil industry, territory, oil, and culture become indivisible. Mainly, it explores how the material and immaterial flows of oil traverse space, bureaucratic power, and culture in which the contemporary Petrosocialist Venezuelan oil state is an exemplar case study. The thesis is particularly concerned with investigating the discursive and institutional mechanisms that enabled the Venezuelan state-owned oil company to expand its dominant space over Caracas, to effectively reframe the city as an oil field. These themes develop through four interconnected arguments. First, it examines the Representations of Space produced by the discourse of Petrosocialism through the creation of the new policy instruments of the Socialist State Space which opened an institutional and legal breach that enabled PDVSA La Estancia (the cultural and social of the state-owned oil company PDVSA ) to enact the Oil Social District as a parallel State Space. Secondly, it argues that PDVSA’s characterisation of its corporate offices in the capital city as a centre of oil extraction conceptualises the Absolute-Material Space of Caracas as an oil field, absorbed by the Metropolitan Oil Social District enabling PDVSA La Estancia to implement the Law of Hydrocarbons as an implicit cultural policy. Third, PDVSA La Estancia’s use of farming language discursively melds oil and culture in a symbiotic and cyclical relationship stating that PDVSA La Estancia is ‘oil that harvests culture’. Fourth, PDVSA La Estancia’s advertising campaign ‘we transform oil into a renewable resource for you’ renders oil and culture as equivalent, as if culture could be extracted, exploited and processed like oil; an original contribution of this thesis is to propose the notion of culture-as-mineral-deposit, inextricable from land, akin to ‘renewable oil’ and tightly controlled by the Petrostate.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:O'Brien, D.
Thesis/Report Department:Department of Sociology
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Science > School of the Built Environment > Architecture
Science > School of the Built Environment > Urban Living group
ID Code:72520

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