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Volume 58 / Humanities


19th and 20th Centuries: Venezuela

PETER S. LINDER, Assistant Professor of History, New Mexico Highlands University

THE OVERALL QUALITY OF VENEZUELAN HISTORIOGRAPHY continues to improve. While political studies still dominate the materials reviewed for this volume, significant works also have appeared in economic history. Perhaps the most significant trend observed is the ongoing proliferation of excellent regional studies on varying topics and themes. The professionalization of historical study in Venezuela noted in earlier volumes has resulted in an increasingly critical spirit of inquiry and an overall increase in quality.

Historians of Venezuela remain preoccupied with the independence era. The bicentennial of the birth of Gen. Antonio José de Sucre has occasioned the publication (or republication) of a number of works dealing with this key figure. Perhaps the best of these is Hoover's study (item #bi 97002865#), originally published in 1975 (see HLAS 40:3322). Also worthy of mention is Polanco Alcántara's thoughtful biography of Francisco de Miranda (item #bi 98007076#).

Postindependence 19th-century politics and ideology continues to be the focus of much interesting work. Banko has traced the evolution of federalist thought from the wars of independence to the era of Guzmán Blanco (item #bi 98007112#). A documentary collection also contributes to the study of the origins of Venezuelan federalism in the early-19th century (item #bi 97002844#).

Twentieth-century political history continues to undergo significant revision. As noted by Ellner, studies of 20th-century politics have become less overtly polemical and have come to challenge established views of both dictatorships and democratic regimes (item #bi 00004037#). Studies by Rangel (item #bi 98007123#) and Berríos Berríos (item #bi 98007108#) provide insights into the nationalist and anti-imperialist character of the Cipriano Castro regime. Campíns argues that the Medina Angarita government was democratic in character and criticizes its overthrow by Acción Democrática (AD) and the military (item #bi 98007094#). Blanco Muñoz accuses the Betancourt government of using excessive force in putting down a military uprising in Puerto Cabello on June 2, 1962 (item #bi 98007095#). Sosa Abascal published a series of works detailing the evolution of Betancourt's political thought in the late 1930s and early 1940s (items #bi 97002875#, #bi 97002843#, and #bi 97002883#).

Interesting works in economic history also deserve mention. Briceño analyzes transportation and commerce on the Orinoco River and its tributaries (item #bi 97002886#), while Flores explores the relationship between commercial interests and the Guzmán Blanco administration (item #bi 97002863#).

A key recent development has been the proliferation of high-quality regional and local studies. Such works demonstrate the tremendous economic, social, and political variability of Venezuela in the 19th and 20th centuries and challenge traditional centrist visions. Yarrington's important work examines the connections between political power and agrarian change in Duaca, Lara state in the 19th and 20th centuries (item #bi 98002123#). Faculty and students of the University del Zulia's Centro de Estudios Históricos and graduate program in Venezuelan history continue to promote research and writing in regional history. A new journal of Zulian history, Palafitos, is planned for the near future, while a number of important studies using Zulia's archives have been published. For example, Urdaneta examines the role of municipal government and regional leaders in preserving Zulian autonomy in the 19th century (item #bi 00002714#). Cardozo Galué, meanwhile, analyzes Zulia's economy, society, and culture from the era of independence until the beginning of the 20th century (item #bi 00004036#).

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