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  • EnviroSociety

    Haiti Is Covered with Trees

    Haiti has been the unfortunate recipient of many an exaggerated moniker, including the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, the Republic of NGOs, and the most deforested country in the Americas—to name just a few.

    Concerning this latter label, virtually every single popular media description, development narrative, and academic account addressing deforestation in Haiti over the past five decades opens with the cliché citation of a grim and staggering statistic: only 2 percent of Haiti is forested.

    This particular narrative concerning deforestation in Haiti was thrust into the wider public consciousness when the now infamous photo depicting stark differences in arboreal coverage between Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic—first image—was prominently displayed in a 1987 National Geographic magazine centerfold—second image (Cobb 1987).

    Photo by James P. Blair, in Cobb 1987

    Photo by James P. Blair, in Cobb 1987

    Photo by James P. Blair, in Cobb 1987

    Photo by James P. Blair, in Cobb 1987

    The Haiti deforestation narrative was further perpetuated in a chapter dedicated to comparing the country’s environmental condition to the neighboring Dominican Republic, in Jared Diamond’s popular book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Another border photograph, this time a satellite image (below), surfaced in former US Vice President Al Gore’s renowned documentary on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth. Issues with all of these accounts have been raised elsewhere (Baver 2014; Bhatt 2012) but fall beyond the scope of this post.

    Photo courtesy of NASA via Wikimedia

    Photo courtesy of NASA via Wikimedia

    The historical trend to saddle Haiti with dire images and descriptions has prompted many, including Haitian-American anthropologist Gina Athena Ulysses, to call for new narratives about Haiti and Haitians. In that vein, it is worth noting that contemporary Haiti is hardly devoid of tree cover.

    Haitians have continued to meet their national energy needs through wood and charcoal production and consumption, despite dire warnings to the contrary. Issued as early as the 1970s, a report commissioned by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) suggested that existing wood supplies in Haiti were enough to meet increasing charcoal demands until around the year 2000 but would eventually result in an environmental “apocalypse” (Voltaire 1979: 21, 23). The prediction that wood supplies would be exhausted by 2000 was also supported by projections based on early remote sensing analyses of aerial photographs spanning from 1956 to 1978, for three different locations in Haiti (Cohen 1984).

    To the contrary, a recent analysis of high-resolution satellite imagery from 2010, triangulated through the ground truthing of hundreds of randomly selected locations throughout the country—suggest a contemporary tree cover of approximately a third of the surface of Haiti (Churches et al. 2014).

    Image adapted from Churches et al. (2014: 212)

    Image adapted from Churches et al. (2014: 212)

    The unfortunate cloud cover in this image—toward the end of Haiti’s southern Tiburon peninsula—masks a large portion of one of the most heavily treed areas in the entire country and partially obscures portions of the Pic Macaya National Park; the percent tree cover for Haiti would almost certainly have been higher if the authors of this analysis had been privy to satellite imagery from a cloudless day.

    Other researchers have reached similar conclusions of unconventionally high arboreal coverage in contemporary Haiti. In 2012, geographers from Virginia Tech conducted a land-use/land-change analysis of Haiti’s largest offshore island (La Gônave) using two high-resolution Landsat satellite images twenty years apart, from 1990 and 2010, accompanied by visits to hundreds of locations on the island to ground truth the image classification (White et al. 2013). These researchers found that the entire land surface of La Gônave in 2010 (excluding water and masking the less than 2 percent cloud cover) was 46 percent covered with forests and dense vegetation, and 40.4 percent covered with woody shrubs (White et al. 2013: 499).

    Image adapted from White et al. 2013: 500

    Image adapted from White et al. 2013: 500

    And finally, in a broader study of land changes within the Greater Antilles between 2001 and 2010, researchers found that 26 different Haitian municipalities underwent significant changes to woody vegetation—8 decreased and 18 increased—and 48 municipalities experienced significant changes in mixed-woody/plantations—9 decreased and 39 increased (Álvarez-Berríos et al. 2013: 88–91). In overall land percentages for the entire country, woody vegetation experienced a 1 percent increase while mixed-woody/plantations increased by 4 percent, or 368 km2 (89).

    Let me be unequivocally clear: Haiti is severely deforested. But anyone who has traveled extensively in Haiti can corroborate what these recent remote sensing analyses of satellite imagery have confirmed: the oft-cited figure of only 2 percent forest cover in Haiti is a gross exaggeration. Still don’t believe me? Peruse a few of many treed locations found throughout Haiti, using either Google Maps (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9) or Bing Maps (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7). To the astute observer, it quickly becomes apparent that easily more than 2 percent of Haiti is covered with trees and that Haiti is not only the lunar landscape that previous photographs or narratives would lead us to believe.

    These new findings, grounded in overwhelmingly convincing data (it’s hard to argue with satellite imagery), raise a series of important questions. 1) Were we wrong about tree cover in Haiti all along? 2) Have we been intentionally misled by insidious development agendas pushing a reforestation agenda? 3) Has there been an arboreal expansion in Haiti in recent decades? My belief is it that the answer to the former and latter questions is a resounding “yes,” which provides the context for understanding my response to the second question—a resounding “no.”

    Consultation of satellite imagery makes it apparent that many of the contemporary treed areas in Haiti are highly fragmented; consist of new, young trees; contain widely spaced trees; or are composed of a combination of all of these features, which work collectively to challenge our notion of what constitutes a “forest” in the first place. Indeed, the definition of a forest varies by individual, discipline, and institution, casting ambiguity on classifications that may add or detract to the narrative of deforestation in Haiti.

    As cultural geographers Owain Jones and Paul Cloke note, researchers frequently conceptualize trees in categories such as “forests,” ‘woodlands,” and “individual trees,” and these categories propagate conceptual sub-categories such as “forests as paradisal landscapes,” “forests as spiritual landscapes,” “forests as mythological landscapes,” “forests as gendered landscapes,” and others (2002: 23–24). Said succinctly, how we conceptualize forests has a direct bearing on the narrative of deforestation and concurrent tree cover in Haiti.

    It is worth noting that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) definition of a forest is “land spanning more than 0.5 ha with trees higher than 5 m and cover of more than 10 percent, or trees able to reach these thresholds in situ” (2010: 209). In the nationwide study that found roughly a third of Haiti’s surface covered with trees, the authors adapted their “tree cover” classification (32.3 percent) to the FAO standard definition of “forest,” yielding a new 29.4 percent “forest” classification for Haiti (Churches et al. 2014: 211). Said differently, whether applying a looser notion of “tree cover” or applying the FAO standard definition of “forest,” approximately a third of the surface of Haiti remains covered with trees in the final analysis (Churches et al. 2014).

    To return to and rephrase the first of three questions posed earlier, how were earlier researchers led to report such low areas of forest cover in Haiti? Until the recent availability of high-resolution, remotely sensed satellite imagery, estimations of arboreal coverage in Haiti relied exclusively on field site visits or qualitative assessments from aerial flyovers—typically from flights entering the country with origins in South Florida. In the case of the latter, frequent visitors to Haiti can testify that the common flight path into the country traces a trajectory along one of the most denuded areas. Relying only on qualitative assessments observed from the window of a commercial flight into Haiti, one might naturally assume that only 2 percent of Haiti remains forested. In the case of the latter, on-the-ground researchers may have been limited in travel to areas of Haiti that were accessible by vehicle. But vehicle-accessible areas in Haiti are exactly the areas most likely to be denuded because they are equally accessible to the trucks that compose the national transportation system for Haiti’s markets, bringing rural produce (and wood and charcoal) to urban areas. Perhaps researchers surveying Haiti by vehicle were in fact surveying the most easily accessible, and by extension, the most deforested areas of the country.

    Returning to and expanding on the third question posed above, is Haiti experiencing an arboreal expansion, and if so, how and why? Deforestation and resulting soil loss is a major concern for the agrarian landscape of Haiti. My recent research suggests the rise of managed charcoal woodlots in Haiti correlates with an historical decline in the agricultural productivity of formally fertile land, along with increased migration to urban areas—ultimately increasing the demand and incentive for rurally produced charcoal (Tarter 2015b). Thus, it appears that in some areas of the country, to mitigate declining agricultural possibilities, Haitians have developed systems of wood production that also meet increasing urban demands for charcoal (ibid.).

    Such an arboreal expansion would not be without precedent. Mark Brenner and Michael W. Binford examined fluctuations in arboreal pollen, weed types, and erosion in sediment cores from Lake Miragoâne in Haiti, providing evidence of a “temporary reestablishment of local forests and reduction of soil loss” (1988: 94) that correlates with land-use changes at the beginning of the nineteenth century. After Haitian independence in 1804, large colonial plantations were destroyed and abandoned as Haitians fanned out and established smaller agricultural settlements, frequently at higher elevations (ibid.). The authors suggest the correlated changes in pollen levels reflect an arboreal expansion during this historical period (ibid.).

    These two explanations are not necessarily mutually exclusive; both may add some explanatory power to the phenomenon concerning the current tree coverage in Haiti presented by the recent remote-sensing analyses treated above. Furthermore, these explanations suggest that while misinformed narratives concerning tree or forest coverage in Haiti should be corrected, they are not necessarily the result of intentional misleading. Scientific inquiry is an iterative process, marked by revisions. As scientists, we should welcome the availability of new data and let those data inform or update our narratives.

    Finally, the elephant in the room concerning narratives is the human component of this human–nature equation. My research I have endeavored to demonstrate that Haitians have developed creative adaptations to the management of trees—responding not only to changes to their environment but also to outside forces and historical market fluctuations (Tarter 2015a, 2015b).

    Andrew Tarter
    is a social scientist that studies human–nature interactions in Haiti. Dr. Tarter is currently employed in Haiti, through the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, at the University of Florida, where he received his PhD in sociocultural anthropology in 2015.


    Álvarez-Berríos, Nora L., Daniel J. Redo, T. Mitchell Aide, Matthew L. Clark, and Ricardo Grau. 2013. “Land Change in the Greater Antilles between 2001 and 2010.” Land 2: 81–107.

    Baver, Sherrie. 2014. “Hispaniola’s Environmental Story: Challenging an Iconic Image.” 2014. Callaloo 37, no. 3: 648–661.

    Bhatt, Keane. 2012. “On Haiti, Jared Diamond Hasn’t Done His Homework.” The North American Congress on Latin America.

    Brenner, Mark, and Michael W. Binford. 1988. “A Sedimentary Record of Human Disturbance from Lake Miragoane, Haiti.” Journal of Paleolimnology 1: 85–97.

    Churches, Christopher E., Peter J. Wampler, Wanxiao Sun, and Andrew J. Smith. 2014. “Evaluation of Forest Cover Estimates for Haiti Using Supervised Classification of Landsat Data.” International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 30: 203–276.

    Cobb, Charles E. 1987. “Haiti: Against All Odds.” National Geographic 172, no. 5: 645–670.

    Cohen, Waren B. 1984 “Environmental Degradation in Haiti: An Analysis of Aerial Photography.” Report prepared for USAID, PAP, Haiti.

    FAO. 2010. “Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010: Main Report.” FAO Forestry Paper 163. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.

    Jones, Owain, and Paul Cloke. 2002. Tree Cultures: The Place of Trees and Trees in Their Place. Oxford: Berg.

    Tarter, Andrew. 2015a. “Trees in Vodou: An Arbori-cultural Exploration.” Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture 9, no. 1: 87–112.

    Tarter, Andrew. 2015b. “Adaptive Arboreal Practices: Haitian Farmer Responses to Ongoing Deforestation.” PhD dissertation, University of Florida.

    Voltaire, Karl. 1979. “Charcoal in Haiti.” Report to USAID/Haiti. Port-au-Prince.

    White, Justin, Yang Shao, Lisa M. Kennedy, and James B. Campbell. 2013. “Landscape Dynamics on the Island of La Gonave, Haiti, 1990–2010.” Land 2: 493–507.

    Cite as: Tarter, Andrew. 2016. “Haiti Is Covered with Trees.” EnviroSociety, 19 May.

  • FocaalBlog

    Mariya Ivancheva: The revolution will not be criticized? The (im)possibility of left-wing critique in Venezuela

    This post is part of a series on the Latin American pink tide, moderated and edited by Massimiliano Mollona (Goldsmiths, University of London).

    After heading the pink tide in Latin America, the Bolivarian government in Venezuela has most recently experienced significant challenges (Bolton 2016). With oil prices sinking, inflation skyrocketing, and consumption goods chains being blocked by commercial networks sympathetic of the opposition, the government has started losing support in its base. Gloating over power cuts and “food shortages”—or more accurately, deficits of certain consumables—opposition-supporting international and Venezuelan private media are hysterically preparing for a pyrrhic victory of the free market over socialism. Scandalized by ever-stronger reactions against Dilma Rouseff’s presidency in Brazil, Venezuelan government supporters home and abroad take an ever more defensive stance shielding the government from internal and external critique alike.

    While the dignity and empowerment that the Bolivarian process has brought to Venezuelans is undeniable (Åsedotter Strønen 2016), with this contribution I argue that the closure of the regime to internal critique and self-rectification has contributed to the current dead-end street for progressive politics in the country. Critiques against the overreliance of the government on oil, the failure to diversify its Dutch disease economy, and poor financial decisions of the government have not been taken into consideration. They have been either silenced or sanctioned.[1] And while critical feedback is crucial for strengthening the Bolivarian regime, in what follows I use material from my fieldwork in Caracas in 2008 and 2009 to show some mechanisms at play that silence radical critique.

    I met Michael Lebowitz in May 2013 in Belgrade, two months after the death of President Hugo Chávez. He was invited by left groups and the Rosa Luxemburg foundation to speak about Yugoslav and Venezuelan forms of workers control. I first saw the Canadian political economist in Caracas in 2009, where he and his partner, writer and activist Marta Harnecker, were part of the International Center Francisco de Miranda (Centro Internacional Miranda, CIM), a think tank sponsored by the Ministry of Higher Education. CIM was proposed to Chávez by Lebowitz and Harnecker, then a President’s advisor. Based in the nationalized hotel Anauco Suites in downtown Caracas, CIM-affiliated left-wing intellectuals produced research and provided training to government officials. In Belgrade I mentioned the forum “Intellectuals for Socialism and Democracy.” “Were you really at that important, intense meeting?” Michael asked, his eyes shining.

    The forum “Intellectuals for Socialism and Democracy: One-way Streets and the Ways Ahead” in June 2009 offered constructive intellectual critique and discussion of alternative solutions to the emerging contradictions of the Bolivarian process. Yet, more than opportunity opening, it presented a critical juncture moment (Kalb and Takk 2005): it allowed institutional arrangements to emerge, which become difficult to change. The forum aimed to galvanize reform from within. Yet, it ended producing a conjuncture in which less and less critique was possible. Instead of serving to offer critical corrective, well-established left intellectuals had to conform to the hierarchy of radicality of the revolution, in which the figure of Chávez had to be placed on top.

    The referendum for the eternal reelection of the Venezuelan president took place in February 2009. It followed two lost election campaigns for the Bolivarian movement: the 2007 constitutional referendum won by the “no” vote and marked by a low turnout and demoralization among the Chavista base, and the partial loss of the November 2008 local elections when the battle for the capital Caracas was won by an opposition mayor. Chávez and his United Socialist Party (PSUV) did not contest the results, confirming their firm democratic stance. Yet, more than 50 percent of votes were for PSUV candidates throughout the country and were seen as a reason for Chávez to appoint a new referendum on end of term limit.

    When I first arrived in Venezuela before the November 2008 local elections, there was a consensual silence among Chavistas about the controversies and failures within the Bolivarian process. The discussions that took place at spaces of intellectual and popular debate in Caracas were marked by a peculiar self-censure. The electoral losses were attributed not to the government, PSUV, or the president but exclusively to the persisting structures of the old bourgeois state and its representative democracy. Yet, the surprising second election campaign in just two months coincided with the first blows of the world financial crisis on Venezuela. Supporters contested the campaign’s expenditure and the austerity measures after the steep decline of oil prices. Budgets were cut and Chavista contract workers from the popular sectors were suspended while permanent employees loyal to previous regimes kept their jobs. Protests of students and workers followed (Wilpert 2009). Even though Chávez and PSUV won the referendum in 2009 with 54% percent, the strategy of government supporters after the 2002 coup d’état “not to give arms to the enemy” started to dissipate, and critical voices emerged.

    Against this background the chair of CIM, Luis Bonilla Molina, organized the public Forum “Intellectuals, Socialism and Democracy.” As Michael Lebowitz told me in 2013, neither Bonilla nor the rest of CIM intellectuals could predict “all what happened afterwards.” The forum was opened by Spanish scholar, Juan-Carlos Monedero—later an adviser of PODEMOS. Monedero declared that the revolution was suffocating under the “hyperleadership of Chávez.” The second speaker in the encounter was sociologist Vladimir Acosta, professor in sociology at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV), famous for his program on national TV and ardent support to the government, and former member of Youth Section of Venezuela’s Communist Party (JPCV). Acosta started his speech with a surprising statement:

    I celebrate, of course, our extraordinary achievements over the last ten years. However, important unnoticed or underestimated problems have accumulated and have become a menace to the advancement and deepening of this process, which, I believe, we all wish to be successful.

    Amid increasing silence, Acosta enumerated thirteen crucial problems that he saw as threatening the revolution. He critiqued the lack of clear political program in the face of the vague generic idea of socialism of the twenty-first century. He outlined the contradiction between the revolution as a collective effort and the centrality of Chávez’s leadership. For Acosta PSUV was not a revolutionary party but rather an electoral instrument of the Bolivarian government. He criticized the persistent capitalist relations of production, the failure of the government to challenge consumerism among the population, the lack of transparency in public expenditure, and the timid nationalization not affecting the rich. He emphasized that the commercial media were the number one power holder in Venezuela and that moderate currents dominated PSUV. Calling Chávez “the soul, heart, nerve, and force of this process,” he still pleaded government supporters not to suppress their critique.


    Acosta’s speech released an avalanche of critical interventions: some prepared, others improvised. UCV’s feminist anthropologist Iraida Vargas asked provocatively if the revolution needed a state. Michael Lebowitz insisted that revolutionary intellectuals should subject themselves to discipline by the revolutionary party but reminded that PSUV was still far from such a party. Historian Roberto Lopéz from Maracaibo—a former Maoist rural guerilla member in the 1980s—spoke of the division of center and periphery in which the countryside was neglected by the revolution. Economist Victor Álvarez, former Minister of Basic Industry, showed National Statistics Office data on the actual increase of the share of private companies during Chávez’s presidency. Miguel-Angel Pérez Pirella from the government-sponsored research institute IDEA demonstrated that science in Venezuela still worked as individual effort, rather than radically reorganized collective endeavor. Gonzalo Gomez—former student organizer and editor-in-chief of the government-supported online comment and analyses website Aporrea—spoke of the failure of the state media to create revolutionary content and format. Many other critical interventions followed (Aporrea 2009).[2]

    The men and women presenting at the forum had a record of work as popular educators, community and trade union organizers. Speakers stated, “This is not an attack. We are here to show support the Revolution.” Many said they were previously reticent to voice critique as it could be used by the opposition to destabilize Chávez’s rule. They had living memory of the coups against democratically elected governments in 1973 in Chile and in 2002 in Venezuela.

    The meeting went on in the spirit of a shared direction. Yet the anticipated new avenues for critical reflection of the Bolivarian process turned into a one-way street. The first attack came from Chavista newspaper El Diario Vea’s regular column Grain of Corn (Un Grano de Maiz). It was authored by an activist close to Rafael Ramírez—Michael Lebowitz recalled—head of PDVSA, a strong opponent of workers’ control. In 2008 Ramírez withheld information on the oil industry from the Minister of Planning, hindering economic planning. El Grano de Maiz called the forum intellectuals “infiltrated bourgeois” who tried to destabilize the revolution.[3] In Aporrea, critics called intellectuals destructive and criticized the Bolivarian division of labor that championed “quazi intellectuals” to common people (Linares 2009).


    Chávez’s awaited response came through national TV. Seated in an open-air studio, he scorned the “armchair theorists,” sarcastically stating, “Who called these intellectuals Chavista? I didn’t!” If they thought they could solve Venezuela’s problems, the president pleaded, “Let them come on Sunday. I will happily spend time with my family” (YVKE Mundial 2009). His next Sunday show, Alo Presidente, launched its “theoretical” version, Alo Presidente Theorico (VTV 2009). Chávez entered Venezuelans homes discussing Marxist theory. In one of the shows, he discussed exploitation with a teenager who wished for a phone company job. And while Lebowitz was fascinated by the show, its lunch after the forum could be read as rendering intellectuals replaceable.

    CIM intellectuals published their interventions in a new journal, La Comuna. Their collective response on Aporrea stated that deep inside Chávez’s arguments “coincided with the main points in the forum.” Later some of them told me that Chávez threatened to expel them from PSUV, but late Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano and the president’s also late adviser General Alberto Müller Rojas made him reconsider, the latter warning that Chávez was “surrounded by a nest of scorpions.”

    In 2013 Michael Lebowitz remembered the forum with somewhat bitter nostalgia. He seemed truly sad about the death of el Comendante, whom he dearly admired. “He was so eager to learn,” Michael recalled a spontaneous midnight phone call from the president as Chávez was eager to discuss with him and Harnecker a book he was reading. In Michael’s eyes, “Chávez didn’t like public critique—private he took earnestly … But then, the president called into a TV station where Juan-Carlos Monedero was interviewed and said Juan-Carlos was right about his presidency being a ‘hyperleadership.”” For Michael it was people in Chávez’s closest circle who defied critique and rejected the bottom-up change that Chávez embraced. As Michael said, graphically “When it hit the fan we had to struggle for our lives … not literally, but attacks began from everywhere.” Minister of Higher Education Luis Acuna wanted to close CIM or hand it over to another ministry as “he just didn’t want the added headache.”

    For Michael, some positive responses from activists and workers on Aporrea testified that the forum had support at the base. Yet, Cilia Flores, then vice president of PSUV and chair of the National Assembly, and her husband, Nicolas Maduro—later nominated by Chávez and elected as Venezuelan president—opposed the forum. Immediately after the forum, Flores confiscated all issues of journal Comuna that Bonilla Molina had distributed at a PSUV meeting. “Strikingly, the party leaders obediently handed her the issues!” Michael exclaimed. Michael recalled that after Chávez’s critique, Maduro said on TV that intellectuals talked “straw.”

    After the forum, CIM was not given further funding and its programs slowly dissolved. Lebowitz and Harnecker have left Venezuela on good terms and have returned upon occasions but have since worked in Cuba, Ecuador, and Canada. In 2013 Michael feared Maduro would share Rafael Ramirez’s Cuban top-down approach to workers’ control. He said, “This makes me seriously concerned about the direction of the revolution.” In our correspondence in March 2016 Michael insisted that the struggle continued. Maduro, he said, had adopted some critiques from Harnecker’s work, was admired by the commune militants, and had “moved some of the scorpions out.”

    For me, however, not only the struggle but also the concern continues. The forum presented a turning point in which the possibility for critique of the Bolivarian government was opened and then closed. Unlike authoritarian left-wing governments in the twentieth century, the Bolivarian government did not apply any violence. Yet, the reactions of Chávez and the Chavista media and PSUV showed mechanisms of shunning constructive critique and disregarding legitimate discontent. In an increasingly top-down process, left-wing intellectuals and militants with a significant past in the struggle against exploitation and injustice were not recognized as a corrective to the revolutionary power. No further attempt was made to reestablish an intellectual tribune that would become a critical corrective to the government. Since Chávez suffered an untimely death, the internal critique of the Revolution shifted from “no weapons to the enemy” to “de mortuis aut nihil aut bene.”[4]

    Mariya Ivancheva is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Equality Studies Centre at the University College Dublin and a member of the editorial collective of LeftEast web portal. Her PhD dissertation from Central European University’s Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology (2013) explores the role of socialist intellectuals in the university reform of the Bolivarian Venezuela. Mariya works on the role of academic elites and higher education in the legacy and present of radical movements and socialist regimes.


    [1] Recently, Marxist political economist Manuel Sutherland has been suspended from the Bolivarian University after the publication of his article giving alternative critical explanations of the “economic war” against the government (see Sutherland 2015 and López Sánchez 2016)

    [2]All the presentations from the forum were live streamed on national TV. They were uploaded and transcribed on Aporrea (see Aporrea 2009).

    [3] Diario Vea’s archive is available online only after 2014; the column was reprinted on the blog of Un Grano de Maiz (2009).

    [4] Latin, “of the dead, either [speak] good or [say] nothing”


    Aporrea. 2009. “Noticias sobre Encuentro Intelectuales, Socialismo y Democracia” (accessed 19 May 2016).

    Åsedotter Strønen, Iselin. 2016. “After the Bolivarian Revolution: What’s in store for Margarita?” FocaalBlog, 1 April 2016 (accessed 19 May 2016).

    Bolton, Peter. 2016. “The other explanation for Venezuela’s economic crisis.” Venezuela Analysis, 28 March (accessed 19 May 2016).

    Kalb, Don, and Herman Takk 2005. Critical junctions: Anthropology and history beyond the cultural turn. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books.

    Linares, Rubén. 2009. “La relación entre los gandoleros del combustible y los ‘intelectuales.’” Aporrea, 16 June (accessed 19 May 2016).

    López Sánchez, Roberto. 2016. “Solidaridad con Manuel Sutherland, despedido de su cargo docente en la UBV.” Aporrea, 23 February (accessed 19 May 2016).

    Sutherland, Manuel. 2015. “Crisis económica o la falaz ‘guerra económica’… derrota histórica y grises perspectivas.”Aporrea, 15 December (accessed 19 May 2016).

    Un Grano de Maiz. 2009. “El mapa de hoy.” Un Grano de Maiz, 6 June (accessed 19 May 2016).

    Venezolana de Televisión. 2014. “Alo Presidente Teorico.” VTV, 16 February (accessed 19 May 2016)

    Wilpert, Gregory. 2009. “An important but risky victory for Venezuela and for socialism.” Venezuela Analysis (accessed 19 May 2016).

    YVKE Mundial. 2009. “Chávez responde a intelectuales de izquierda que critican su ‘hiperliderazgo.’” Aporrea, 14 June (accessed 19 May 2016).

    Cite as: Ivancheva, Mariya. 2016. “The revolution will not be criticized? The (im)possibility of left-wing critique in Venezuela.” FocaalBlog, 24 May.

  • Museum Worlds

    Museum News: May 2016


    LA’s Getty Center Blends Oculus-Ready VR With Ancient Chinese Art In Virtual Reality Museum Exhibit, via International Business Times

    Polish government to take control of WWII museum, via The Washington Post

    Activists Occupy Brooklyn Museum in Protest of Two Exhibitions, via Artforum

    A Verona Museum’s Stolen Paintings Are Found in Ukraine, via The New York Times

    London Museum Hopes To Reboot Eric, Britain’s First Robot, via NPR

    Smithsonian Offers Sneak Peek of Museum of African-American History, via TIME

    National museum aims to preserve Palestinian history, via AlJazeera

    Treasures From the Deep at the British Museum, via Wall Street Journal

  • Berghahn Journals Blog

    Berghahn titles at Council for European Studies Conference

    We are delighted to inform you that Berghahn titles will be on display at The Council for European Studies Conference in Philadelphia, PA on April 14-16, 2016. Please stop by and don’t miss your chance to browse our selection of books at special conference price and pick up free journal samples.


    If you are unable to attend, we would like to provide you with a special discount offer. For the next 30 days, receive a 25% discount on all Europe Studies titles found on our website. At checkout, simply enter the code CES16.



    Here is a preview of some of our newest releases on display.




    The State of the Art
    Edited by Olivier Fillieule and Guya Accornero
    Foreword by James Jasper

    Volume 16, Protest, Culture & Society


    Bringing together over forty established and emerging scholars, this landmark volume is the first to comprehensively examine the evolution and current practice of social movement studies in a specifically European context. While its first half offers comparative approaches to an array of significant issues and movements, its second half assembles focused national studies that include most major European states. Throughout, these contributions are guided by a shared set of historical and social-scientific questions with a particular emphasis on political sociology, thus offering a bold and uncommonly unified survey that will be essential for scholars and students of European social movements.

    Read Introduction: “So Many as the Stars of the Sky in Multitude, and as the Sand which is By the Sea Shore Innumerable”: European Social Movement Research in Perspective



    A Comparative History of a European Concept
    Edited by Pasi Ihalainen, Cornelia Ilie, and Kari Palonen


    Parliamentary theory, practices, discourses, and institutions constitute a distinctively European contribution to modern politics. Taking a broad historical perspective, this cross-disciplinary, innovative, and rigorous collection locates the essence of parliamentarism in four key aspects—deliberation, representation, responsibility, and sovereignty—and explores the different ways in which they have been contested, reshaped, and implemented in a series of representative national and regional case studies. As one of the first comparative studies in conceptual history, this volume focuses on debates about the nature of parliament and parliamentarism within and across different European countries, representative institutions, and genres of political discourse.

    Read Introduction: Parliament as a Conceptual Nexus




    Making and Unmaking Heritage in Cyprus
    Gisela Welz



    On the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, rural villages, traditional artefacts, even atmospheres and experiences are considered heritage. Heritage making not only protects, but also produces, things, people, and places. Since the Republic of Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004, heritage making and Europeanization are increasingly intertwined in Greek-Cypriot society. Against the backdrop of a long-term ethnographic engagement, the author argues that heritage emerges as an increasingly standardized economic resource, a “European product.” Implemented in historic preservation, rural tourism, culinary traditions, nature protection, and urban restoration projects, heritage policy has become infused with transnational market regulations and neoliberal property regimes.

    Read Introduction



    Arranging Legality in European Labor Migration Policies
    Regine Paul


    The conditions for non-EU migrant workers to gain legal entry to Britain, France, and Germany are at the same time similar and quite different. To explain this variation this book compares the fine-grained legal categories for migrant workers in each country, and examines the interaction of economic, social, and cultural rationales in determining migrant legality. Rather than investigating the failure of borders to keep unauthorized migrants out, the author highlights the different policies of each country as “border-drawing” actions. Policymakers draw lines between different migrant groups, and between migrants and citizens, through considerations of both their economic utility and skills, but also their places of origin and prospects for social integration. Overall, migrant worker legality is arranged against the backdrop of the specific vision each country has of itself in an economically competitive, globalized world with rapidly changing welfare and citizenship models.

    Read Introduction: Labor Migration Management: A Case for Interdisciplinary and Interpretive Policy Studies 



    Deportation, Punishment and Everyday Life
    Ines Hasselberg

    Volume 17, Dislocations


    Focusing on the lived experience of immigration policy and processes, this volume provides fascinating insights into the deportation process as it is felt and understood by those subjected to it. The author presents a rich and innovative ethnography of deportation and deportability experienced by migrants convicted of criminal offenses in England and Wales. The unique perspectives developed here – on due process in immigration appeals, migrant surveillance and control, social relations and sense of self, and compliance and resistance – are important for broader understandings of border control policy and human rights.

    Read Introduction: An Ethnography of Deportation from the UK



    Cultural Legacies of Europe at War, 1936-2016
    Edited by Manuel Bragança and Peter Tame
    Foreword by Richard Overy
    Afterword by Jay Winter

    Volume 17, Contemporary European History


    In its totality, the “Long Second World War”—extending from the beginning of the Spanish Civil War to the end of hostilities in 1945—has exerted enormous influence over European culture. Bringing together leading historians, sociologists, and literary and film scholars, this broadly interdisciplinary volume investigates Europeans’ individual and collective memories and the ways in which they have shaped the continent’s cultural heritage. Focusing on the major combatant nations—Spain, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Poland, and Russia—it offers thoroughly contextualized explorations of novels, memoirs, films, and a host of other cultural forms to illuminate European public memory.

    Read Introduction: The Long Aftermath of the Long Second World War






    Poverty, Welfare and Social Ties in Modern Europe
    Edited by Beate Althammer, Lutz Raphael, and Tamara Stazic-Wendt

    Volume 27, International Studies in Social History


    In many ways, the European welfare state constituted a response to the new forms of social fracture and economic turbulence that were born out of industrialization—challenges that were particularly acute for groups whose integration into society seemed the most tenuous. Covering a range of national cases, this volume explores the relationship of weak social ties to poverty and how ideas about this relationship informed welfare policies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. By focusing on three representative populations—neglected children, the homeless, and the unemployed—it provides a rich, comparative consideration of the shifting perceptions, representations, and lived experiences of social vulnerability in modern Europe.



    Late Authoritarianism and Student Protest in Portugal
    Guya Accornero

    Volume 18, Protest, Culture & Society


    Histories of Portugal’s transition to democracy have long focused on the 1974 military coup that toppled the authoritarian Estado Novo regime and set in motion the divestment of the nation’s colonial holdings. However, the events of this “Carnation Revolution” were in many ways the culmination of a much longer process of resistance and protest originating in universities and other sectors of society. Combining careful research in police, government, and student archives with insights from social movement theory, The Revolution before the Revolution broadens our understanding of Portuguese democratization by tracing the societal convulsions that preceded it over the course of the “long 1960s.”



    Discourses of Trauma, Exclusion and Survival
    Edited by Lynda Mannik

    Volume 35, Forced Migration


    At a time when thousands of refugees risk their lives undertaking perilous journeys by boat across the Mediterranean, this multidisciplinary volume could not be more pertinent. It offers various contemporary case studies of boat migrations undertaken by asylum seekers and refugees around the globe and shows that boats not only move people and cultural capital between places, but also fuel cultural fantasies, dreams of adventure and hope, along with fears of invasion and terrorism. The ambiguous nature of memories, media representations and popular culture productions are highlighted throughout in order to address negative stereotypes and conversely, humanize the individuals involved.





    In Paperback


    Asymmetry and Proximity at Europe’s Frontiers
    Edited by Jutta Lauth Bacas and William Kavanagh†


    “As befits anthropology, Border Encounters is rich in empirical detail. However, it is also an excellent introduction to border theory, with a helpful literature review. The theoretical framework clearly set out in the Introduction and the individual chapters do collectively illustrate why borders should be seen as constructs and as sites of asymmetrical social relationships…All in all, this is an intriguing and well-structured volume which will be of interest to students and scholars from a variety of academic disciplines.” · LSE Review of Books

    Read Introduction: Border Encounters – Asymmetry and Proximity at Europe’s Frontiers



    Comparative Perspectives
    Edited by Steven King and Anne Winter

    Volume 23, International Studies in Social History


    “…a valuable and engaging contribution to historical debates about labor, poverty, relief, and belonging…[The papers] are written by leaders in their fields…and pulled together [by the editors] in an elegant and convincing treatment of the case for such a geographical spread.” · Alannah Tomkins, University of Keele

    The issues around settlement, belonging, and poor relief have for too long been understood largely from the perspective of England and Wales. This volume offers a pan-European survey that encompasses Switzerland, Prussia, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Britain. It explores how the conception of belonging changed over time and space from the 1500s onwards, how communities dealt with the welfare expectations of an increasingly mobile population that migrated both within and between states, the welfare rights that were attached to those who “belonged,” and how ordinary people secured access to welfare resources.


    Student Resistance, Cultural Politics and the ‘Long 1960s’ in Greece
    Kostis Kornetis

    Volume 10, Protest, Culture & Society

    Winner of the 2015 Keeley Book Prize of the Modern Greek Studies Association


    “This long-anticipated… publication signals the beginning of a potentially fruitful and certainly long overdue examination of the 1960s and 1970s in Greece. After so many years of discussions and debates on the Greek Civil War, the time for a careful consideration of the junta and its afterlife seems to have finally come. Kornetis offers an enormously productive entry point by exploring the issue that is analytically most central and socially most sensitive concerning this period: resistance and its counterpart, complicity. For anyone with an interest in the period or in the broad range of theoretical issues raised by its study, Children of the Dictatorship is an indispensible book that is sure to anchor future discussion and debate of the military regime.” · Journal of Modern Greek Studies


    Edited by Eric Langenbacher, Bill Niven, and Ruth Wittlinger


    “Overall this is an interesting collection with a number of thought-provoking essays. Notably, several of the chapters bring new (social science) methodologies to the interdisciplinary field of memory studies. It is also a strength of the volume that, while the focus is clearly on memories of World War II and the Holocaust, it incorporates consideration of a range of pasts that continue to have a significant impact on the way Europeans understand themselves and others. The comparative perspective proves particularly fruitful in raising new questions regarding different kinds of remembrance at both the national and the European level.” · European Legacy






    Berghahn Journals: 


    Previously published as Anthropological Yearbook of European Cultures


    Published since 1990, Anthropological Journal of European Cultures (AJEC) engages with current debates and innovative research agendas addressing the social and cultural transformations of contemporary European societies. The journal serves as an important forum for ethnographic research in and on Europe, which in this context is not defined narrowly as a geopolitical entity but rather as a meaningful cultural construction in people’s lives, which both legitimates political power and calls forth practices of resistance and subversion. By presenting both new field studies and theoretical reflections on the history and politics of studying culture in Europe anthropologically, AJEC encompasses different academic traditions of engaging with its subject, from social and cultural anthropology to European ethnology and empirische Kulturwissenschaften.




    Aspasia is the international peer-reviewed annual of women’s and gender history of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe (CESEE). It aims to transform European women’s and gender history by expanding comparative research on women and gender to all parts of Europe, creating a European history of women and gender that encompasses more than the traditional Western European perspective. Aspasia particularly emphasizes research that examines the ways in which gender intersects with other categories of social organization and advances work that explores transnational aspects of women’s and gender histories within, to, and from CESEE. The journal also provides an important outlet for the publication of articles by scholars working in CESEE itself. Its contributions cover a rich variety of topics and historical eras, as well as a wide range of methodologies and approaches to the history of women and gender.




    FPC&S is the journal of the Conference Group on French Politics & Society. It is jointly sponsored by the Institute of French Studies at New York University and the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University.

    European Comic Art is the first English-language scholarly publication devoted to the study of European-language graphic novels, comic strips, comic books and caricature. Published in association with the American Bande Dessinée Society and the International Bande Dessinée Society, European Comic Art builds on existing scholarship in French-language comic art and is able to draw on the scholarly activities undertaken by both organisations. However, our editorial board and consultative committee bring expertise on a wider European area of comic art production and the journal will emphasise coverage of work from across Europe, including Eastern Europe.





    FPC&S is the journal of the Conference Group on French Politics & Society. It is jointly sponsored by the Institute of French Studies at New York University and the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University.

    French Politics, Culture & Society explores modern and contemporary France from the perspectives of the social sciences, history, and cultural analysis. It also examines France’s relationship to the larger world, especially Europe, the United States, and the former French Empire. The editors also welcome pieces on recent debates and events, as well as articles that explore the connections between French society and cultural expression of all sorts (such as art, film, literature, and popular culture). Issues devoted to a single theme appear from time to time. With refereed research articles, timely essays, and reviews of books in many disciplines, French Politics, Culture & Society provides a forum for learned opinion and the latest scholarship on France.

    French Politics, Culture & Society is now available on JSTOR!




    German Politics and Society is a joint publication of the BMW Center for German and European Studies (of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). These centers are represented by their directors on the journal’s Editorial Committee.

    German Politics and Society is a peer-reviewed journal published and distributed by Berghahn Journals. It is the only American publication that explores issues in modern Germany from the combined perspectives of the social sciences, history, and cultural studies.

    German Politics and Society is now available on JSTOR!




    A Journal for the New Europe


    Published in association with the Leo Baeck College and the Michael Goulston Education Foundation.

    For over 40 years, European Judaism has provided a voice for the postwar Jewish world in Europe. It has reflected the different realities of each country and helped to rebuild Jewish consciousness after the Holocaust.

    The journal offers: stimulating debates exploring the responses of Judaism to contemporary political, social, and philosophical challenges; articles reflecting the full range of contemporary Jewish life in Europe, and including documentation of the latest developments in Jewish-Muslim dialogue; new insights derived from science, psychotherapy, and theology as they impact upon Jewish life and thought; literary exchange as a unique exploration of ideas from leading Jewish writers, poets, scholars, and intellectuals with a variety of documentation, poetry, and book reviews section; and book reviews covering a wide range of international publications.

    European Judaism is now available on JSTOR!



    Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology


    Focaal – Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology is a peer-reviewed journal advocating an approach that rests in the simultaneity of ethnography, processual analysis, local insights, and global vision. It is at the heart of debates on the ongoing conjunction of anthropology and history as well as the incorporation of local research settings in the wider spatial networks of coercion, imagination, and exchange that are often glossed as “globalization” or “empire.”

    Introducing: FocaalBlog, which aims to accelerate and intensify anthropological conversations beyond what a regular academic journal can do, and to make them more widely, globally, and swiftly available.




  • Berghahn Journals Blog

    Berghahn Books Shortlisted for The British Book Industry Awards


    From The Bookseller’s website:

    The British Book Industry Awards will celebrate the greatness of the British book trade and the people behind it – the best books, the best writers, the best bookshops, the best publishers – from industry greats to those starting out. Building on the success and legacy of The Bookseller Industry Awards (the trade “Nibbies”), 2016 will mark the first step, and a step-change, in the way the book trade presents itself to itself and to the wider world.

    The winners will be announced 9th May 2016. Stay tuned!




  • Berghahn Journals Blog

    Solving the Mystery of Nancy Drew

    The following is a guest blog post written by Michael G. Cornelius, author of the article Sexuality, Interruption, and Nancy Drew, which appeared in Volume 8, Number 2 of the journal Girlhood Studies.

    It’s admittedly an odd thing, to be a Nancy Drew scholar.

    Strictly speaking, “Nancy Drew Scholar” is not the official occupation listed on my tax forms. And when strangers ask me what I do for a living—whenever such casual conversations between strangers bubble up, such as on an airplane—I never reply “Nancy Drew scholar.” I usually say “English teacher” or “professor” or even “medievalist” (which raises more than a few eyebrows on its own, trust me.) And, at the risk of sounding like an actor who worries about typecasting, I’m more than a Nancy Drew scholar. I write on a wide variety of subject matter: sword-and-sandal movies; science fiction; sexuality in the premodern and early modern eras—a quick perusal of my CV would reveal books and articles with words like “Chaucer” and “Shakespeare” and “Gawain” in the titles (there’s also one that includes the word “Farts,” but that’s a subject of a whole different blog post.)

    Despite all that, around half my scholarly output involves Nancy Drew, Vicki Barr, Trixie Belden, Shirley Flight, Rick Brant, Christopher Cool, or some other girls’ or boys’ series protagonist. I can’t help it. My obsession started at a young age when a prescient elementary-school librarian pressed a copy of Secret of the Forgotten City (Nancy Drew #52) into my hands at the impressionable age of 9. This book had everything: mystery, adventure, secret codes, archaeology, thrilling discoveries, friendship—safe and sane as these books may be, for a farm-town kid ensconced in an upstate village of 200 people and 8000 dairy cattle, this was heady stuff indeed. I never looked back, and I never outgrew my love of Nancy Drew.

    If you ever need evidence of this, feel free to come to my house. I can show you my collection. I have 900 Nancy Drew books (and growing). Collectible dot shelves here and there; a few pieces of original Nancy Drew artwork adorn the walls. And my CV reflects this: I’ve written about Nancy Drew and primitivism; Nancy Drew and the Awkward Age; Nancy Drew and Shakespeare; Nancy Drew and sacrality; Nancy Drew and teleological perfection; Nancy Drew and illness; Nancy Drew and motherhood; and, for the piece included in the most recent edition of the the journal of Girlhood Studies (8.2, 2015), “Sexuality, Interruption, and Nancy Drew.”

    People sometimes look at me funny when they find out about my obsession with Nancy Drew. I don’t blame them. There are precious few of us out there (though I have always contended there are not nearly enough of us out there.) Many social critics have observed that it is our leisure time, and not our working hours, that truly defines us, whether we obsess over baseball statistics or knitting patterns or growing a pumpkin the size of a Winnebago. I obsess over Nancy Drew and her fellow girl and boy sleuths. I belong to two different girl sleuth societies; I attend Nancy Drew conventions (yes, we have them, and they are spectacular); I re-read the books; I ponder them. And I use them to understand the world. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? What we academics are really doing, each in our discipline, each in our own way? Trying to understand the world—our world, each world, every world. And what better way to do that than through Nancy Drew? Everyone knows her name. She is a cultural zeitgeist—probably the most well-known female literary character of all time. New Nancy Drew books have been produced for the last 85 years, with no signs of stopping. And over the course of hundreds and hundreds of mysteries solved, criminal conspiracies uncovered, and villains locked behind bars, Nancy Drew—directly and indirectly—has confronted nearly every aspect of society, all while remaining a blank slate and a figure of mythopoesis. She is larger-than-life and yet, at the same time, utterly scribe-able to every reader, so that we may place ourselves, not in her shoes (for, indeed, no one is Nancy Drew), but next to her, in her flashlight’s glow, part of her coterie, part of her circle of friends, part of her adventures and part of her world. That is the real power of Nancy Drew. The worlds of characters like Sherlock Holmes and King Arthur are too rarified for us—one has to be extraordinary just to be let in the front door (even Watson, for all his bluster, is a pretty good writer). With Nancy Drew, however, one just has to be curious, and a little bit brave. We can all do that.

    “Sexuality, Interruption, and Nancy Drew” looks, quite literally, at the verbal tactic of interruption in the Nancy Drew books, pondering why it is, whenever the topic of conversation turns to marriage, Nancy abruptly and vigorously changes the narrative, altering the course of conversation away from any hint of romance, marriage, coupling, and dyadism, and back to more important matters—like mysteries. Take, for example, the conclusion to The Mystery at Lilac Inn, where Nancy finds it necessary to interrupt two chums whose conversation dares to veer toward their upcoming nuptials:

    Later, as Nancy, Helen, and Emily were talking, the two older girls suddenly stopped speaking on the subject of their forthcoming weddings. Helen said, “Goodness, Nancy, you must be tired of hearing us talk about steady partners when—” Nancy interrupted. Laughing gaily, she said, “Not at all. For the present, my steady partner is going to be mystery!” (Keene 1961: 180)


    As a scholar, I sometimes feel as Nancy does. I love spying riddles in texts and television shows and trying to ascertain what it all might mean. Of course being a Nancy Drew scholar makes perfect sense in this imperfect world. Who is better at solving mysteries than Nancy? A Nancy Drew scholar? I’m proud to be identified as such.

    Work Cited

    Keene, Carolyn. 1961. The Mystery at Lilac Inn. New York: Grosset and Dunlap.

    MICHAEL G. CORNELIUS is the author/editor of fifteen books, including nancy drew and her sister sleuths: essays on the fiction of girl detectives (co-edited with Melanie E. Gregg; McFarland, 2008) and the companion book, The Boy Detectives: Essays on the Hardy Boys and Others (McFarland, 2010). He has published extensively on Nancy Drew, Vicki Barr, and other girls’ and boys’ series literature. Cornelius is the chair of the Department of English and Communications at Wilson College in Chambersburg, PA.


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