Ezequiel Korin, “Branded by the nation: how Chavez got under our skin.” Paper to be presented at the 2016 University of Illinois Qualitative Inquiry Congress, May 2016.
Abstract: In late 2012, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez traveled to Cuba to receive cancer treatment. Chavez, a ubiquitous character since being elected into office in 1999, suddenly became absent from the public eye, and by late December 2012, strong rumors of his death had begun circling in the media. The Venezuelan government published several official denials and executive orders (presumably signed by Chavez), which prevented new presidential elections from being held. Once Chavez’s death was confirmed in March 2013, as part of the response to allegations that Chavez’s signature had being forged, the government sponsored country-wide activities in which individuals could get his signature tattooed for free. Through an auto ethnographic narrative, the author explores the practice of tattooing late president’s Chavez’s signature as a twofold exertion of power: on one hand, as an exercise of nation branding; on the other, as an exercise of branding of the human body.