18.00-20.00, Thursday December 7th, Graham Wallas Room (5.25), Old Building, London School of Economics & Political Science, Houghton Street, WC2A 2AE
A Blessing and a Curse examines the lived experience of political change, moral uncertainty, and economic crisis amid Venezuela’s controversial Bolivarian Revolution. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in an urban barrio over the course of a decade, Matt Wilde argues that everyday life in this period was intimately shaped by a critical contradiction: that in their efforts to capture a larger portion of oil money and distribute it more widely among the population, the governments of Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro pursued policies that ultimately entrenched Venezuela in the very position of dependency they sought to overcome. Offering a new synthesis between anthropological work on energy, politics, and morality, the book explores how the use of oil money to fund the revolution’s social programs and political reforms produced profound cultural anxieties about the contaminating effects of petroleum revenues in everyday settings. Tracing how these anxieties rippled out into community life, family networks, and local politics, Wilde shows how questions about how to live a good life came to be intimately shaped by Venezuela’s contradictory relationship with oil. In doing so, he brings a vital perspective to contemporary debates about energy transitions by proposing a new way of thinking about the political and moral economies of natural resources in postcolonial settings.