Business History in Latin America: The Experience of Seven Countries

By Carlos Dávila; Rory Miller et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT
Economic and Business History
in Venezuela
Ruth Capriles and Marisol Rodríguez de Gonzalo

In this chapter we take the risk of carrying out, perhaps for the very first time, an overall evaluation of the state of business history in Venezuela.1 It is only recently that this theme has been considered by those working on it as an area of academic research which is both specific and distinctive. Business historians in Venezuela used to lack awareness of its dimensions and hardly realised the significance of the tasks in which they were engaged. They were simply researchers approaching an area of common interest from rather different directions. Nobody, including the authors of this paper, could claim to be a real authority in the field. Even today the body of literature on business history in Venezuela is still not clearly defined. However, it may be possible to analyse it now with a greater awareness of the significance of business history in contemporary Latin America, something that used to be done rather intuitively or using the tools of the general historian rather than those of the specialist.

This chapter will therefore analyse the state of economic and business history in Venezuela, considering questions such as the style of economic history that has been written, and the current trends in the subject. However, when it comes to discussing problems of method and knowledge we are very much dependent upon our own experience of research in this field. For reasons which will be explained, those scholars interested in business history have only recently gained a real consciousness of its particular nature and demands, and it is rather early to attempt a synthesis of the state of the field along the lines adopted in other chapters in this volume. Moreover, the central role played by the state in the economy of the country since the petroleum boom of the 1920s has created conditions for the development of economic and business history which do not have parallels elsewhere in Latin America.2

____________________
1
We are extremely grateful to María Elena González Deluca for her collaboration in compiling the bibliography on which this paper is based.
2
It should be emphasised that while we have attempted to include all the items on business history that we could find, the bibliography of Venezuelan economic history on which this chapter is based is not exhaustive. We have attempted only to outline a bibliographic typology on the basis of the consolidated bibliography arising from the work of three separate researchers, Marisol de Gonzalo, María Elena González, and Ruth Capriles. As the original listing of books was the outcome of our personal research on specific topics, the final result cannot pretend to be a complete listing. We recognise that there are undoubtedly several omissions which are bound to offend experts in the field. We offer apologies for any such major faults.

-158-

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