Conclusion
Mmism
oments of social change are hard to capture in all of their dyna-
and fluidity. Often all we can hope to glimpse are the broad
shapes of actors in motion and the traces of possibility that are left in
the air. Shifts in paradigm are not discernible simply through the rheto-
ric and slogans of a few charismatic leaders, or through the clashes on
the streets between opposing groups. Rather, they are registered in small
seismic shifts of consciousness, in the everyday wars of position that are
fought out in areas that earlier were not contested and now are. The
balance of forces is constantly shifting. New centers of power emerge for a
time and they multiply into diverse streams of activity or they are suffused
with the habits of the old order and collapse into themselves. And as this
process unfolds, it partakes of life, the throb and hum of the city streets
dense with vendors and slowly moving crowds, and the pulse of a reg-
gaeton beat, a life which never ceases but weaves itself into the evolving
and vital spaces of revolution.
Throughout this book we have looked at the spheres of everyday life—
the fiestas, life histories, music, rhythms, murals, barrio assemblies, and
popular radio—in order to understand the dimensions of urban popular
politics during the historic presidency of the radical leftist leader Hugo
Chávez. In these final reflections, I consider some broader questions about
the contemporary political landscape and changing sites of social struggle.
Is Latin America entering a phase of recomposition and regrouping of
forces? Are cities set to be the site of new social movements, or are we
seeing the development of an urban vanguardism? What might a world
after neoliberalism look like? I offer some brief speculations here, but I
hope that these questions will be further answered by future work that is
deeply informed by ethnography and a political sociology of movements
on the ground.
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