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Political TheologiesPublic Religions in a Post-Secular World$
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Hent de Vries and Lawrence E. Sullivan

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780823226443

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823226443.001.0001

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Intimate Publicities: Retreating the Theologico-Political in the Chávez Regime?

Intimate Publicities: Retreating the Theologico-Political in the Chávez Regime?

(p.401) Intimate Publicities: Retreating the Theologico-Political in the Chávez Regime?
Political Theologies

Rafael Sánchez

Fordham University Press

This chapter demonstrates how a “theologico-political balloon”, the Bolivarian republic of Hugo Chávez regime in Venezuela, has been deflated instantly by mediatic effects. In power since December 1998, the Chávez regime has been characterized by a radical constitutionalism and a political theology that identifies with the nation's dead founding hero, Simon Bolívar. The chapter evokes the hilarious media event that epitomized—or triggered—the regime's loss of auratic authority, shifting the overall tone of public debate from deference to ridicule, as the military was put on the spot for its alleged impotence via the (first anonymous, then televised) sending of women's colored lingerie. This is a fateful provocation whose violence is more symbolic than physical. Yet another sample of an effective politics of scandal and insult, just as it is one of sexual politics (or, rather, of using the sexual politically), the “panties episode” intervened in the public domain of a state whose gendered identity and auratic authority are largely contingent upon its being demarcated from the domain of privacy and feminine sexuality.

Keywords:   Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, theologico-political, political theology, Simon Bolívar, military, media, sexual politics, feminine sexuality, scandal

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