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Paper short abstract:
How is EU funding used to imagine equality and opportunity in an era of 'left behind' places? In this multi-sited paper (Wales and Central Europe), we explore the disjunctures between techno-political promises of progress and local capabilities.
Paper long abstract:
Sut defnyddir cyllid o'r UE i ddychmygu cydraddoldeb a chyfleoedd mewn cyfnod o leoedd a 'adawyd ar ôl'? Yn y papur aml-safle (Cymru a chanolbarth Ewrop), archwiliwn y datgysylltiadau rhwng addewidion technegol-gwleidyddol am gynnydd a medrau lleol.
The European project has long promised to smooth the socio-economic map, with 'Cohesion' the second largest EU budget line. Despite decades of regional development programmes, "What has the EU done for us?" has become a question of the Brexit-era zeitgeist - perhaps voicing the feeling of being 'stuck' with inequality. While the media's quasi-ethnographic discovery of 'left behind' places has made headline infamy ("Town Showered with EU Cash Votes to Leave EU"), the European Commission has responded with communication campaigns, insisting on "What the EU does for you". Yet, as we observe in this paper, the discursive implication that those purportedly 'left behind' merely do not know about EU funding sits at a disjuncture from their experiential knowledge of their own lives. Stepping further, we argue that Cohesion Policy's techno-political promises of progress can foreclose what Sen (1993) would recognise as local capabilities. Sketching vignettes from our respective fieldwork in Wales and the Austro-Czech-Slovak-Hungarian border region, we treat EU funding as a kind of ethnographic object - that is parcelled, transported, and affectively inscribed. We explore how funding becomes an object for imagining equality, while transformative promises of a better future become materially enacted in ways that can, conversely, locally re-inscribe the sense of simply seeing more of the same.
'Left behind places': unequal social trajectories of progress
Session 1 Wednesday 4 September, 2019, -