Abandoning the Revolution? Gender, Race, Socialism, and South-South Migration in South America

Authors: Christopher Courtheyn*, Boise State University
Topics: Political Geography, Migration, Latin America
Keywords: migration, socialism, gender, race, Latin America
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 42
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper analyzes the ‘socialist’ revolution in Venezuela and re-configuration of cities in neighboring Colombia through the experience of Venezuelan migrants. Drawing upon fieldwork in Bogotá and the Colombian border city of Cúcuta, it inquires into Venezuelan emigrants’ reasons for migrating; experiences with socialism; actions to shape their new communities as immigrants; and political subjectivities. First, with respect to Venezuela, my findings to date suggest persistent racialized violence against ethnic minorities in Venezuela; mass support for socialist government programs among poor urban women; the state’s and society’s inability to transcend an oil-based political culture; and international sanctions imposed by the United States that have crippled the government’s ability to sustain social welfare. Second, concerning immigrant experiences in Colombia, media and popular speech often reproduce xenophobia of Venezuelans by importing the racialized concept of ‘the migrant’ from the global north. However, female immigrant interviewees in Bogotá affirm that Colombians have received them as ‘brothers,’ while grassroots organizations in Cúcuta strive to challenge differential rights regimes that discriminate based on citizenship with collective right to the city struggles comprised of immigrants and internally displaced Colombians. Rooted in migrant experiences, as well as attention to the broader geopolitical conflict that shapes them, this feminist urban geography based on a gendered and racial account of Venezuelan politics and urban development in South America intervenes in debates about ‘south-south migration’ and ‘democratic socialism’ in the twenty-first century.

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