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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

“Don't watch television, make it!” Community media, the state, and popular politics in Caracas, Venezuela
by Schiller, Naomi, Ph.D., New York University, 2009, 430; 3380275
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation is an ethnographic study of community media production, politics, and social change in Caracas, Venezuela. I examine how community producers from the poor neighborhoods of west Caracas use the tools of television production to gain entrance into official state arenas and barrio organizations where they participate in the formation of ideas and representations about "the state" and "the people." In so doing, this dissertation makes analytical contributions to the anthropology of media, theories of the state, and liberalism.

In the past decade, Caracas's community media outlets have expanded from informal groups of activists organizing and documenting everyday life in their impoverished neighborhoods to licensed broadcasters who use state funds to train and equip their neighbors to be television producers. Marginalized for many decades by state practices and mainstream media representations, community activists recognized that media production was a fundamental tool to assert their rights and gain access to shaping local and national politics. Community media making in Caracas has provided barrio-based social actors new possibilities not only to understand the technological process of production behind media representations, but also the socio-political dynamics involved in the production of the state.

Media activists at Catia TV, Caracas's most prominent community television station and the focus of this dissertation, engage the social practice of media production as a method of critical pedagogy, performative politics, and everyday state formation. In five chapters, I document the changing meanings of the state in the daily life of community media producers and analyze how these political activists negotiate their alignment with the government.

The dissertation, moreover, challenges binary understandings of autonomy and dependence central to liberalism. I show how beliefs and expectations that media groups can and should be autonomous from the state shape Catia TV producers' political practice and outlook. While defying the fixity of the boundary between conceptual realms of state and society, I argue that community producers also draw on normative liberal notions about the independence of society from the state to assert their authority.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ginsburg, Faye, Abercrombie, Thomas
School: New York University
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 70/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Political science, Mass communications
Keywords: Anthropology of media, Caracas, Community media, Latin America, Politics, State, Television, Venezuela
Publication Number: 3380275
ISBN: 978-1-109-50691-4
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