RAI Research in Progress: Natalia Garcia Bonet
Friday 2nd December 2016. 4.30 pm
The perennial expansion of the Venezuelan frontier (the school, the church and the government)
Natalia Garcia Bonet, Kent
In this paper I explore the expansion of the state’s educative apparatus in Pemón communities of La Gran Sabana (The Great Savannah) in South East Venezuela. The border between Venezuela and British Guyana, where the Great Savannah is located, has historically represented a contested area. I will describe how discourses about the vulnerability of that frontier (regularly reproduced in school texts and the media) serve as justification for the very tangible state presence in the area, as well as for the promotion of settlers from other parts of the country. Reinterpreting the concept of the Turnerian frontier, I will argue that Indigenous populations mirror the liminality of the frontier, and that Venezuelan border areas represent open-ended spaces for the rebirth of the nation. These notions determine the ways in which the government relates to indigenous communities through diverse programmes, including state sponsored intercultural education initiatives.