Megaprojects, states and social movements in Latin America

Mike Geddes


Megaprojects, states and social movements in Latin America
Mike Geddes, University of Warwick, UK
Megaprojects are a prominent and fiercely contested element in contemporary neoliberal patterns of development, not least in Latin America.
Such projects – including dams, airports, roads, high speed railways, canals, new towns – are widely promoted by governments and just as widely contested by local populations and social movements. Their attractiveness to capital is clear, but the limited scope for democratic and participatory involvement in the decision processes surrounding such projects, as well as their ecological and environmental impacts and economic and social value for money, are frequently criticised.
This paper draws on a range of examples across Latin America to address two main questions. First, megaprojects are not new. But does their current prominence mean that they are particularly associated with neoliberalism, and if so in what ways? How can a Marxist perspective illuminate the role of megaprojects in the contemporary economy?
Secondly, what can be learned from an analysis of the many oppositional struggles against megaprojects? In particular, megaprojects have been promoted not only by governments espousing neoliberalism, but by more progressive, ‘pink tide’ governments. Does this imply that there are types of megaprojects which should be supported by those on the left, or does the opposition to them question the progressive claims of such governments?

Latin America - Political economy - Uneven Geographies