"Some processes are bigger than the single individual": continuities and ruptures in the higher education reform in Bolivarian Venezuela

Date: 
November 28, 2013 - 17:30 - 19:00
Building: 
Nador u. 9, Monument Building
Room: 
202
Event type: 
Event audience: 

Public Lecture by

Mariya Ivancheva

visiting fellow at the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna, Austria

 

 "Some processes are bigger than the single individual": continuities and ruptures in the higher education reform in Bolivarian Venezuela

This presentation revolves around the trajectory of a single, yet symbolic individual in the higher education reform in the Bolivarian government in the first ten years of its rule (1999-2009): the first Rector of the Bolivarian University of Venezuela. The Bolivarian University was established in 2003 as a result of the increased polarization within the Venezuelan academic field. It was aimed to give free and unconditional access to poor Venezuelans. Using a mix of ethnography, historical, and interview materials I illustrate the way in which the continuities and ruptures in the Bolivarian programs of higher education are reconciled in a single professional biography. I also show the ambivalent relation of the Bolivarian regime to academic intellectuals. On the one hand the latter are used to legitimize the government’s expertise and its higher education reform as based on traditional academic credentials and achievements. On the other hand, they are subject to constant cadre rotation, which diffuses responsibility and compromises the continuity of reform. One important consequence of this dispositive is that it stifles critique that tends to emerge from loci of administrative power about the implementation of the Bolivarian project. It also demonstrates the challenge to intellectuals’ autonomy and authority vis-à-vis the state.

 

Mariya Ivancheva is a junior visiting fellow at the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna (IWM). She recently earned a PhD in Sociology and Social Anthropology from the Central European University, on the topic of the higher education reform in Bolivarian Venezuela.