"Dancing Jacobins traces the populist 'monumental governmentality' that began to take shape in Venezuela and other Latin American nations around the time of independence, in response to the insistent return of subaltern populations in the form of crowds. Informed by a Bolivarian political theology, the nation's representatives, or 'dancing Jacobins,' draw on the repertoire of busts, portraits, and equestrian statues of national heroes scattered across Venezuela in a montage of monuments and dancing--or universal and particular. To this day, the nervous oscillation between crowds and peoplehood intrinsic to this form of government has inflected the republic's institutions and constructs, which are haunted and imbued from within by the crowds they otherwise set out to mold, enframe, and address"-- Provided by publisher

"Since independence from Spain, a trope has remained pervasive in Latin America's republican imaginary: that of an endless antagonism pitting civilization against barbarism as irreconcilable poles within which a nation's life unfolds. This book apprehends that trope not just as the phantasmatic projection of postcolonial elites fearful of the popular sectors but also as a symptom of a stubborn historical predicament: the cyclical insistence with which the subaltern populations menacingly return to the nation's public spaces in the form of crowds"-- Provided by publisher

"This long-awaited book presents an insightful and at the same time rollicking account of the Latin American populist form the author terms 'monumental governmentality.' It combines a theatricalizing of political leaders to a sometimes absurdly gigantic and statesque extent with those leaders' antic efforts to effectuate their political power through a syncopated, winking, salsa-like personal style that appeals directly to the mass audience. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is the prime example, and the central focus of the book. Theoretically, the book is a marvelously rich example of anthropological writing, which can be read with pleasure by those not Latin Americanists for its insights in practical and poltiical philosophy. Historically and in term of policy, it gives an excellent account of a Latin American political style that tends simply to be laughed at in the U.S.--but that persists and is effective nonethess"--From publisher's website