This dissertation investigates the process of territorial formation at sub-national levels in a Latin American country. I present territorial formation as result of struggles and negotiations among different social factions, with different levels of power, setting up spatial practices supported by and in support of geographical imaginations as part of their mode of thought at different scales. While creating new and transforming existing spaces, dominant social groups establish new rules and new political and socio-economic roles for themselves and the subordinated groups as integral part of the production and reproduction of the created spaces.
Geographical imaginations are civilizations, societies, groups and individuals conceptions about what a place should be and how it is brought into being how it is produced so it can be lived in actuality. Myths, metaphors, rationales and convictions on which we construct references giving meaning and sense to political use of space serves as foundation to geographical imaginations, which together with juridical formations and policies constitute the basis for a group or social system to appropriate, produce and reproduce its space as polity at expense of others.
The dissertation covers three historical phases in the creation of Venezuelan territoriality and their associated geographical imaginaries: 1) The dispossession of aboriginal lands by European Conquerors, Colonizers and Republican Creoles, creating a semi feudal state, 2) the process of modernization intended to industrialize the country and develop a capitalist society with a rentier scheme based on oil revenues, and, 3) the most recent attempt to undertake the path to socialism allowing communities to self-define and manage their own territorial ambits. These processes are analyzed using methods from historical geography, environmental history, studies of the commons, institutional analysis, and critical Marxist geography.
Three articles highlight specific aspects of Venezuelan territorial formation and its related spatial practices and imaginaries at different scales. The first describes more than five hundred years of historical geopolitical formation and evolution of a region, the second examines formal and informal institutions for local resource management, and, the third considers the collective political subject formation related to socio-territorial creation aimed at establishing country-wide socialism.
Key words: Formal and informal institutions, geographical imaginations, production of space, socialism at the twentieth first century, territoriality, Venezuela