Infrastructure, Development, and Territory in Brazil

Authors: Deborah WERNER*, co-author, Fabio de Oliveira, Author
Topics: Economic Geography, American South, Development
Keywords: Infrastructure, development, territory
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 32
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The paper intends to explore relations between infrastructure, development, and territory in Brazil after the 1990s. Recognizing the national style of development, it deepens the understanding of the territorial effects of infrastructure supply, conceiving it as the result of hegemonic relations that prevails in the country. In this sense, infrastructure projects (dams, ports, railways, etc.) express simultaneously the uneven development nature of global capitalism and structural socioeconomic heterogeneities in regions such as Amazon and Cerrado, setting a territorial structured coherence through the technical indivisibility of investments. We argue that peripheral infrastructure projects, acting not only as a support for economic activities but also as a business itself, tend to deny the promotion of an emancipatory and sustainable social long term development project in Brazil. The paper refuses conventional approaches that establish links between competitiveness and infrastructure, as supposedly replicable in any reality. Alternatively, it assumes that the existence of social and political conflicts requires the identification of the broader and multidimensional determinations around the infrastructure supply, as a marketization process that privileges – with State’s institutional, regulatory, and financial support – extractive capital accumulation imperatives, rather than sustainable strategies. To this end, the paper discusses the main findings of comparative studies carried out under a collective research project that analyzes different nature of Brazilian infrastructure projects, disproving the particularities of decision-making centers, political mechanisms of legitimation, as well as ruptures and endurances provoked by the actions and reactions involved in it.

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