Aaron Kappeler

Junior Fellow
Period of Stay: 
October 2016 – June 2017
University of Toronto, Canada
Project Title: 
Coffee and Socialism in the Venezuelan Andes
Project Abstract: 

Based on ethnographic fieldwork in the highlands of Barinas, this project investigates the impact of “twenty-first century socialist” policies on the Andean peasantry and explores the relationships established as part of Venezuela’s ongoing agrarian reform. The project examines the historical and material-cultural factors surrounding the production of coffee and the political dynamics, which have shaped growers’ livelihoods. The analysis underscores the recent efforts of the Venezuelan government to increase domestic coffee production and support internal producers with petroleum revenue, suggesting that attempts to insert the state into the rentier structure of the coffee economy have fostered unique social tensions. The ethnographic account presents the current relationship of state functionaries to coffee growers and illustrates the contradictory effect these relations have on growers’ political awareness. The remaining analysis interrogates the potential effect of these conditions on the process of state formation and concludes with a discussion of the role of socialist policies in shaping the future of Venezuelan agriculture.

File Attachments