Spanish high-speed rail and the disarticulation of capital and labour mobility
Natalia Buier (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)
Paper short abstract:
This paper takes up the case of the Spanish high-speed rail project as a way to explore the interrelation between transport infrastructure, processes of accumulation and devaluation of the built environment and the increasing segregation of the mobility of labour and capital.
Paper long abstract:
Ciudad Valdeluz, hailed as Spain's first town built from scratch, is a new residential development built around the promise of hyper-connectivity offered by high-speed rail. The last twenty years have seen the expansion of Spain's high-speed rail network to the point of it becoming the longest HSR network in Europe. HSR has not only followed the revaluation of land, but it has also driven the recent processes of urbanization, as the case of Ciudad Valdeluz clearly shows. What most of the residents of places like Ciudad Valdeluz have experienced, however, is the impact of enforced mobility rather than the annihilation of distance. In this paper I take up the case of Ciudad Valdeluz in order to analyze the contradictions that characterize the new spaces of the transport system and their associated forms of mobility. HSR is, I argue, a fundamental resource for the absorption of excess capital and part and parcel of the new forms of urbanization that characterize the circulation of financial capital. It is also an instrument for completing the long-term process of devaluation of the industrial geography of Spain.
Mobilizing materiality: theorizing the relationship between finance and infrastructure development