In the nature of the non-city
Martin Arboleda, “In the Nature of the Non-City: Expanded Infrastructural Networks and the Political Ecology of Planetary Urbanisation,” Antipode, 48, 2, 2016, 233-251.
Our colleague Martin Arboleda, who is currently Urban Studies Foundation postdoctoral fellow at the UTL, has recently published a brilliant new article in Antipode that engages productively and creatively with some of the Urban Theory Lab’s work in the context of his investigation of resource extraction urbanization in Latin America. We are grateful to Martin Arboleda for permission to share this article here, which will, we hope, animate and orient future work on the uneven, variegated and contested geographies of planetary urbanization. The article’s abstract follows:
This paper proposes extending Urban Political Ecology’s (UPE) ideas about the urbanisation of nature in order to include the geographical imprints of expanding, global metabolic flows of matter, energy and capital. It does so through the analysis of Huasco, a small agricultural village in northern Chile that has been overburdened with massive energy undertakings aimed at powering the operations of mines that supply raw materials to international markets. Like the sewage and technological networks that feed the life of cities, the paper argues that Huasco -as a metabolic vehicle of planetary urbanisation- has also been hidden from view, and thus the fetishisation of urban infrastructural networks initially theorised by UPE, has been ratcheted-up to the global level by the mediating powers of neoliberalising capitalism. Just as the socio-material arrangements that facilitate the smooth functioning of the modern city and household are riddled with glitches and exclusions, the paper suggests that globally up-scaled infrastructures reveal even larger contradictions that put into jeopardy the very premises upon which the ongoing commodification of nature is grounded.