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About City

Penelope Plaza

PhD Student

Department of Culture & Creative Industriesnull

E: penelope.plaza-azuaje.1@city.ac.uk

Thesis title: The power of oil and the construction of public space in the Bolivarian Venezuela

Supervisors: Dr. Dave O'Brien (Goldsmiths), Dr. Tomás Straka (Universidad Católica Andrés Bello)

Affiliation to Research Group/Centre: Venezuela Research Network, Petrocultures Research Cluster

Course start date and mode of study: 2012, PhD in Cultural Policy and Management, full time

Summary of current doctoral research

My research explores the relationship between the petrostate, urban space, and culture in Venezuela through the analysis the works of urban regeneration and public art conservation undertaken by PDVSA La Estancia, the social and cultural arm of PDVSA, the Venezuelan state-owned oil company. I will explore how public space is being instrumentalized by PDVSA La Estancia for the construction of discourses and visual representations of petrosocialism in Caracas.

Research interests

  • State, space and territory
  • Modernity
  • Cultural studies
  • Architecture & urban space
  • Urban governance
  • Intersections between the politics of space and politics of culture

Higher education background

2004-2005, MPhil in Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

1991-1997, Architecture BA, Universidad Simón Bolívar, Venezuela.

Awards and grants

City University Doctoral Studentship 2012-2015
Shell Centenary Scholarship Fund 2004-2005

Conference presentations

  • (Forthcoming) Mythifications of petrosocialism, a semiotic exploration of PDVSA La Estancia’s visual campaign Transformamos el petroleo en un recurso renovable para ti. Paper to be presented at the 2nd International Conference Ideas & Transformations in the Americas, UCL Americas Research Network, University College London, 28-29 April 2016.
  • Plaza, P. (2015) The Spatialization of the Power of Oil: PDVSA as Place Entrepreneur in the Regeneration of Sabana Grande Boulevard. Paper presented at Society of Latin American Studies Annual Conference, Aberdeen, 17 April 2015.
  • Plaza, P. (2009) Del rancho a la modernidad: panoptismo en la vivienda social moderna en Venezuela y Brasil. (From slum to modernity: panoptism in the modern social housing in Venezuela and Brazil). Paper presented at Congreso Internacional Ciudades Latinoamericanas. La utopía intelectual en una geografía inestable(International Congress Latin American Cities), Faculty of Philosophy and Literature, Universidad de Buenos Aires,  November 12, 2009
  • Plaza, P. (2008) La construcción de una nación bajo El Nuevo Ideal Nacional: Obras públicas, representación e ideología durante la dictadura de Pérez Jiménez 1952-1958. (Building a Nation under El Nuevo Ideal Nacional: Public Works, Ideology and Representation during the Pérez Jiménez dictatorship, 1952-1958). Paper presented at Semana Internacional de Investigación,  Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism, Universidad Central de Venezuela, October 2 2008


  • (Forthcoming, co-editor) Blackmore, B.; Jarman, R. & Plaza, P. (2016) The Politics of Aesthetics in Contemporary Venezuela, The Bulletin of Latin American Research Book Series, Wiley-Blackwell, London.
  • Plaza, Penélope (2011). De Bentham a Le Corbusier: Vigilancia y disciplina en la vivienda social moderna latinoamericana. El complejo habitacional Pedregulho, Río de Janeiro, Brasil (1947-1958), Atenea, Nº 504, II Semestre, Universidad de Concepción-Chile, pp. 111-130.
  • Plaza, Penélope (2010). Madre armada y niño. Representación de la Mujer Nueva en los murales de la Revolución Sandinista en Nicaragua. Apuntes, Vol. 23, N° 1. Bogotá: Instituto Carlos Arbeláez, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, ENE-JUN 2010.
  • Plaza, Penélope (2008). La construcción de una nación bajo El Nuevo Ideal Nacional. Obras públicas, representación e ideología durante la dictadura de Pérez Jiménez 1952-1958. Semana Internacional de Investigación Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo. Ponencias in Extenso (CD). Caracas: FAU-UCV, Octubre 2008, pp. [HP-12] 1- [HP-12] 24.


CITY, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON, Department of Culture and Creative Industries

  • 2015 - Visiting Lecturer for the module on Globalisation and the cultural and creative industries, second year of Cultural and Creative Industries BA (September 2015-January 2016)
  • 2014 - Visiting Lecturer for the module on Globalisation and the cultural and creative industries, second year of Cultural and Creative Industries BA (September 2014-January 2015). Guest Lecturer on  "Building a New Public Culture: Public Space and Urban Art", MA in Cultural Policy, Public Culture: Politics of Participation Module (March)
  • 2013 - Seminar leader for the core module on Culture, MA in Cultural Policy (September-January 2014). Guest Lecturer on  Latin American Perspectives on Cultural Policy, MA in Cultural Policy, Core Module (November).

Canterbury School of Architecture, University of the Creative Arts

  • 16 October 2015 - Guest examiner for Stage 3 (BA) Hons Architecture Interim Crit, session 2015-2016.
  • 14 April 2015 - Guest examiner for Stage 3 (BA) Hons Architecture Final Review, session 2014-2015.
  • 9 March 2015 - Guest examiner for Stage 3 (BA) Hons Architecture Interim Crit, session 2014-2015.

UNIVERSIDAD SIMÓN BOLÍVAR. Department of Architecture, Design and Visual Arts

  • 2008-2012 - Assistant Professor (Lecturer) of Theory and History of Architecture and Visual Arts and Graphic Expression
  • 2000 - Visiting Lecturer, Architectural Design Workshop (Diseño Básico)

Other Work

Penelope is co-founder and Director of Strategy and Delivery of CollectiVoX, a not-for-profit organisation that identifies opportunities to create social change through collaborative urban actions in Caracas, Venezuela. CollectiVoX is currently developing “Busca Tu Espacio”, a project to engage underprivileged youth in creative and entrepreneurial activities in Caracas in partnership with The British Council Venezuela, funded by the European Union, with support from the Caracas municipalities of Libertador, Chacao, Baruta and Sucre.


Busca Tu Espacio

Penelope is co-founder, with scholars Lisa Blackmore (University of Zurich) and Rebecca Jarman (University of Leeds), of the Venezuela Research Network, which brings together scholars from a range of institutions, disciplines, and political perspectives who are engaged in research on Venezuela. In 2014 the network organized its first international conference:

The Politics of Aesthetics and the Aesthetics of Politics, Centre of Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge, 18-19 September 2014. Keynote Speaker: George Yúdice (University of Miami).