At Space and Politics, Gaston Gordillo has posted a fascinating excerpt from his forthcoming book The Afterlife of Places: Ruins and the Destruction of Space. Here’s the opening paragraph:
The violent destruction of the void of the Gran Chaco by the state marked the disruption not only of particular forms of sociality free from state control but also of a terrain defined by physical striations that had slowed down state mobility for centuries. Military conquest, therefore, was followed by the smoothing out of forests and swamps, carried out over several decades in order to build roads, railroads, telegraph lines, bridges, towns, airfields, ports, agricultural fields and cattle ranches. The clearest sign that military victory had been complete was that the labor of defeated multitudes armed with shovels, axes, pickaxes and machetes was used to destroy older striations, change the form of the terrain, and produce a territory under state control.
He goes on to situate his argument in relation to Henri Lefebvre, David Harvey, Neil Smith, Naomi Klein and others.