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Kristin Ciupa - The Political Economy of Venezuelan Oil and Regional Responses to Neoliberalism

 Kristin Ciupa - The Political Economy of Venezuelan Oil and Regional Responses to Neoliberalism

Kristin Ciupa, PhD Candidate, School of Politics & IR

Primary Supervisor: Dr Jeff Webber

Education/Professional Qualifications

MA Sociology, 2011, York University, Canada

Called to the Bar of Ontario, 2009

JD, 2008, University of Windsor, Canada

BA Sociology, 2005, Brock University, Canada

My MA and PhD research have been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada.

Work Experience

I have worked as a research assistant on projects pertaining to estate planning and risk society, and Aboriginal sentencing in Canada, and as a teaching assistant in courses focusing on classical and contemporary social theory.  

Research Interests

Latin American Political Economy, International Political Economy, Latin American Left, Marxism, Neoliberalism and Post-Neoliberalism, International Law, Development, Imperialism

Research Topic

My PhD research focuses on contemporary regionalisms in Latin America associated with the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) regional bloc, exploring the extent to which they represent anti-neoliberal and anti-imperial challenges to the logics of neoliberal global capitalism. As the first attempt to coordinate a regionally integrated social, economic and political response to the dominant neoliberal political economic model, ALBA facilitates alternative forms of regional trade, develops a regional trading currency, nationalizes natural resource sectors and extends social welfare programs. Heavily reliant on oil extraction and export, ALBA has also been criticized for remaining tied to a model of international trade that has contributed to social inequality in Latin America.

I approach this topic via a scalar analysis that explores the relationship between class politics, state form, and capital at the international and local levels as they impact upon regional initiatives. My analysis at the international level draws on theories of uneven and combined development, Marxist state theory, and theories of imperialism. I explore the current phase of neoliberal global capitalism, focusing on the intensification of capitalist expansion, uneven and combined development and changes to state form, in order to delineate the limitations and possibilities for state-led third world autonomy in the current international capitalist system.

At the local level, as the main country to support ALBA materially and ideologically, my analysis focuses on the Venezuelan state and class politics as they impact on ALBA, and as they are impacted by two aspects of Venezuelan political economy and society: the oil industry and the relationship between civil society and state politics. First, as both the source of funding for many of ALBA’s initiatives, as well as the subject of many of its agreements, my analysis focuses on the implications of an anti-neoliberal project that is closely tied to the Venezuelan oil industry. My research illuminates the linkages between the international demand for oil, the Venezuelan oil industry, Venezuelan state form and the interaction between national and international class interests, in order to explore the implications of an export-oriented model of growth for a project of regional integration. Second, my research explores how the unique ‘top down’, ‘bottom up’ approach to Venezuelan politics associated with the Bolivarian revolution, which gradually supplants state-led institutions with locally run communal organizations, has impacted state-led projects, such as ALBA, and explores the potentiality of ALBA to incorporate social movements and constituent power into a more equitable form of regional integration.

At the regional level, I situate an analysis of ALBA within the international and local contexts, exploring how international and local class politics impact upon the possibilities for regional autonomy, power, and identity-building. I contrast ALBA with neoliberal forms of regionalism and situate ALBA within the current proliferation of regionalisms in Latin America, to determine the extent to which ALBA challenges the logics of neoliberal regionalism, state, development, and the neoliberal separation of politics and civil society. My research situates an analysis of ALBA within the context of New Left political projects in Latin America, exploring the possibility of constructing state-led alternatives to neoliberal capitalism through regionalism in an era of globalization.


Raddon, Mary-Beth and Ciupa, Kristin. (2011). “How to Write Your Will in an Age of Risk: The institutionalization of individualism in estate planning in English Canada” Current Sociology 59.6: 771-786.

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