Event Title

Political Processes of Displacement in Infrastructure Development: the Case of Aldeia da Luz and the Alqueva Dam Project

Presenter Information

Cordelia Walz, Oberlin College

Location

PANEL: Race, Place, and Environmental Histories
Adam Joseph Lewis Center Hallock Auditorium

Document Type

Presentation

Start Date

5-13-2022 2:00 PM

End Date

5-13-2022 3:00 PM

Abstract

In 2002, the residents of Aldeia da Luz left their village for the final time, displaced to make room for the Alqueva Dam, a massive hydropower project almost half a century in the making. The Alqueva Multipurpose Project was marketed by the Portuguese government as a way to develop the impoverished region of the Alentejo. The village of Luz was the only physical obstacle to this goal and, therefore, its residents were dispossessed, sacrificed for the development of the greater Alentejo region. However, unlike many other large-scale infrastructure projects that displace populations, the developers of the dam attempted to compensate the residents by reconstructing the village elsewhere. Through analysis of the diverging discourses on the dam and the displacement of Luz this paper compares and examines the perspectives of the residents of Luz, government officials, and residents of the greater Alentejo region on the Alqueva Dam and the displacement of Luz. Using archival news recordings, video testimony, transcribed interviews, and documentary footage, this paper analyzes the displacement of Luz using critical environmental justice and the Marxist concept of accumulation by dispossession. This critical analysis shows that existing distributive and procedural justice mechanisms failed to adequately protect the residents of Luz or prevent developers from benefiting from their dispossession. As Portugal, and the world at large, transitions to renewable energy, the case study of Aldeia da Luz is critical to learn from in order to prevent the further reproduction of unequal power dynamics in future renewable infrastructure projects.

Keywords:

Environmental justice, Accumulation by dispossession, Displacement, Green infrastructure

Project Mentor(s)

Swapna Pathak, Centre for Social Research and Intervention, School for International Training Sustainability and Environmental Justice in Portugal Program, and Oberlin Environmental Studies Department
Susana Batel, ISCTE-University Institute of Lisbon

2022

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
May 13th, 2:00 PM May 13th, 3:00 PM

Political Processes of Displacement in Infrastructure Development: the Case of Aldeia da Luz and the Alqueva Dam Project

PANEL: Race, Place, and Environmental Histories
Adam Joseph Lewis Center Hallock Auditorium

In 2002, the residents of Aldeia da Luz left their village for the final time, displaced to make room for the Alqueva Dam, a massive hydropower project almost half a century in the making. The Alqueva Multipurpose Project was marketed by the Portuguese government as a way to develop the impoverished region of the Alentejo. The village of Luz was the only physical obstacle to this goal and, therefore, its residents were dispossessed, sacrificed for the development of the greater Alentejo region. However, unlike many other large-scale infrastructure projects that displace populations, the developers of the dam attempted to compensate the residents by reconstructing the village elsewhere. Through analysis of the diverging discourses on the dam and the displacement of Luz this paper compares and examines the perspectives of the residents of Luz, government officials, and residents of the greater Alentejo region on the Alqueva Dam and the displacement of Luz. Using archival news recordings, video testimony, transcribed interviews, and documentary footage, this paper analyzes the displacement of Luz using critical environmental justice and the Marxist concept of accumulation by dispossession. This critical analysis shows that existing distributive and procedural justice mechanisms failed to adequately protect the residents of Luz or prevent developers from benefiting from their dispossession. As Portugal, and the world at large, transitions to renewable energy, the case study of Aldeia da Luz is critical to learn from in order to prevent the further reproduction of unequal power dynamics in future renewable infrastructure projects.