New Publication: Imperialism and the Geopolitics of COVID-19 in Venezuela

Rowan Lubbock has written a new essay for Textos & Debates on the geopolitics of COVID-19 in Venezuela.

Abstract: The impact of COVID-19 in Venezuela has merely compounded an already existing health crisis within the country. Like the rest of the Venezuelan economy and society, the breakdown of the healthcare system is largely due to the legacy of class conflict and the contradictions of Bolivarian oil-dependent development policy, which finally came to breaking point with the end of the commodity super-cycle. And yet, despite the domestic sources of the crisis, the current unfolding of the COVID-19 pandemic in Venezuela is inherently geopolitical in nature. Central to this story is the manner in which Venezuela’s domestic and electoral dynamics have become inextricably embedded within the ‘imperialist chain’ centred on Washington. The conflict between chavista and opposition forces, the constitutional crisis of 2017, the unilateral declaration of Juan Guaidó as ‘interim president’ in 2019, and an intensified sanctions regime are all differentially conditioned by US imperial strategy. This paper will unpack the interconnections between the domestic and international dynamics of Venezuela’s socio-political crisis, explore the ways in which COVID-19 has been weaponised by the Trump administration, and attempt to understand the prospects for radical political renewal under conditions of increasing geopolitical conflict.

The article can be found at

Events: Queer Histories and Presents

Politicizing sexuality, rewriting the international: The anti-imperialism of the gay liberation movement

Alex Stoffel – Queen Mary University London

Numerous queer scholars have raised concerns about contemporary transnational LGBT movements. They have provided a compelling critique of both a) the imperialism of contemporary sexual rights movements, as they impose a Western sexual epistemology on non-Western subjects, and b) the nationalism of post-colonial regimes, who legitimize queerphobic state repression by framing homosexuality as a corruptive Western import. However, these critiques have their limits. Analytically, they run the risk of assuming a radical discontinuity among global sexual discourses, which inadvertently reinscribes homosexuality as inherently Western and which conceals the complex struggles over these discourses within the West itself. Politically, it is marked by a sense of political paralysis and paranoia, as it is unable to envision a transnational political struggle around sexuality that does not collude either with the imperialism of global sexual rights movements or with the nationalism of post-colonial elites. This analytical and political deadlock follows from this scholarship’s exclusive concern with the sexual rights movements of large non-governmental organizations, international institutions, and mainstream advocacy networks. Alternative histories of radical sexual politics have largely been ignored. This paper turns to the internationalism of the gay liberation movement, uncovering a history of transnational queer politics that undermines the foundational presuppositions of transnational sexuality studies.

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