Coffee and socialism in the Venezuelan Andes

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Based on ethnographic fieldwork in the highlands of Barinas, this article investigates the impact of “twenty-first century socialist” policies on the Andean peasantry and the relationships established as part of Venezuela’s ongoing agrarian reform. The analysis explores the historical and material-cultural factors surrounding the production of coffee in the Andes and the dynamics, which have shaped a small group of growers. It also examines the recent efforts of the Bolivarian Government to increase domestic coffee production and support internal growers, suggesting that attempts to insert the state into the rentier structure of the coffee economy have somewhat inadvertently reinforced a working class consciousness. The ethnographic vignette illustrates the present relationship of state functionaries to coffee growers and narrates their analysis of the conditions, showing the contradictory effect these relations have on growers. The rest of the analysis locates the sources of this social awareness and its potential effect on state formation. The article concludes with a discussion of the role of class in history and a few observations about the future of peasant politics in the twenty-first century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalFocaal: Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology (Focaal)
Issue number84
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


  • capitalism
  • labor
  • livelihood
  • peasant consciousness
  • the state
  • uneven development
  • Venezuela


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