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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Another big ditch : the prospect of a Nicaragua Canal Jewell, Kendra


In this thesis, I analyze the impacts of infrastructures that have been approved but are not yet constructed. Specifically, I show how the Nicaragua Canal – a mega-infrastructure project owned by a Chinese investment firm and pushed through by the Nicaraguan government – haunts resident peoples in both its non-present presence, and in its propensity to exhume a painful social past. In calling the Nicaragua Canal a “ghost,” a “chimera,” and a “smoke screen,” resident peoples communicate the illusory quality of infrastructures that remain stuck in the preconstruction phase. And yet the many ways in which the Nicaragua Canal is currently affecting resident peoples demonstrate the very real power it has, even when it does not yet exist in the material world. Given this, I engage Derrida’s concept of the specter to examine the impacts of infrastructures that are yet-to-be. With insights gained through fieldwork conducted in Nicaragua from May to August of 2016, I analyze what happens in the liminal spaces of infrastructural development – in the time lag between approval and construction – and especially how potentially affected peoples are experiencing the spectrality of the Nicaragua Canal.

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