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Alejandro Velasco,

Alejandro Velasco

Please note: Alejandro has left the "History" group at Duke University; some info here might not be up to date.

Contact Info:
Office Location:  Carr 223
Email Address: send me a message

Office Hours:

MW 4-5 PM

MADuke University2002
BABoston College2000

Research Interests: Modern Latin America

Current projects: From Democratic Revolution to Massacre in Venezuela: Urban Popular Consciousness and the Emergence of the Multitude in Caracas, 1958-1989 (Ph.D. Dissertation)

My work centers on modern Latin America, particularly Venezuela (though I have also done fieldwork in Chile, researching gender and labor in the northern nitrate mines at the turn of the century). In my MA thesis I argued that political and academic discourses of mestizaje, or race mixture, exposed rather than masked enduring legacies of prejudice in the state's relationship with dark-skinned Venezuelans, despite the consolidation of democratic governance after 1958. In 2002, a research trip to Caracas coincided with the fallout from an attempted coup d'etat - the latest expression of Venezuela's deeply polarized social and political climate. My dissertation sets this polarization against the backdrop of decades-old grassroots political organizing in Venezuela's largest urban housing project. The "January 23" project and its residents played key roles in the 1958 revolution that democratized Venezuela. But in 1989, they were targets of the state repression that followed unparalleled protests against democracy's failures. What were the bases for popular loyalty and legitimate disloyalty in the interim? How did urban popular sectors after 1958 interpret shifting structural conditions and state policy, in times of plenty and of scarcity? How did state inattention to the urban populace shift parameters of formal and informal politics, leading to the rise of an independent political consciousness? In resolving these questions I hope to contribute to a literature on "informality" in Latin America, one where the concept of the "multitude" has increasingly played a central role in developments from Mexico to Argentina.

Areas of Interest:

Contemporary Venezuela
Race and racism
Social movements

I have taught or co-taught the following courses: Introduction to Contemporary Latin America (Duke University), Resistance and Revolution in 20th Century Latin America (Duke University); Institute for Recruitment of Teachers Summer Workshop (Phillips Academy, Andover). I have TA'd the following courses: Afro-Brazilian History and Culture (Prof. John D. French, Duke University); American Indian History (Prof. Peter Wood, Duke University). I have offered the following lectures: Democratic Suicide or Survival? The IMF in Venezuela (Globalizing Protest, Duke University). I have also offered presentations on Latin American history for elementary, middle, and high school teachers in North Carolina.

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