Development corridors and the spatio-temporal matrix of the soybean boom

Authors: Maria Eugenia Giraudo*, University of Durham
Topics: Latin America, Political Geography
Keywords: infrastructure, Latin America, agriculture
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 32
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Expanding agricultural and pastoral production, driven by the commodity boom of the 2000s, has created long-lasting impacts upon the environment – most spectacularly in recent years the destruction of over 80 thousand km2 of forest as a result of Amazonian fires (Butler, 2019). One crucial element contributing to this has been the development of massive transport infrastructure that facilitate the movement of commodities to global markets. The growing global importance of infrastructure points towards a contemporary ‘infrastructural moment’ (Bridge et al., 2018), marked by rising investment in large-scale infrastructure projects to support commodity production, circulation, and consumption.

This paper will explore the expansion of ‘development corridors’ in South America – that is, the network of road, train, and port infrastructure facilitating circulation of primary commodities – with a focus on those connected to the expansion of soybean production in the region. This paper argues that capital accumulation in the soybean sector, and its political regulation, have developed a particular ‘spatio-temporal matrix’ (Jessop, 2000), with infrastructure developments playing a key role in the spatial structuring of the region. This spatio-temporal organisation enables the creation and distribution of profit, while at the same time generating patterns of unevenness through the economic, social, and environmental impacts of these projects.

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