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Contemporary Megaprojects

An Introduction

Seth Schindler, Simin Fadaee and Dan Brockington

There is renewed interest in megaprojects worldwide. In contrast to high-modernist megaprojects that were discrete projects undertaken by centralized authorities, contemporary megaprojects are often decentralized and pursued by a range of stakeholders from governments as well as the private sector. They leverage cutting-edge technology to ‘see’ complex systems as legible and singular phenomena. As a result, they are more ambitious, more pervasive and they have the potential to reconfigure longstanding relationships that have animated social and ecological systems. The articles in this issue explore the novel features of contemporary megaprojects, they show how the proponents of contemporary megaprojects aspire to technologically enabled omnipresence, and they document the resistance that megaprojects have provoked.

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Violence and public health in the Altamira region

The construction of the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant

Rosa Elizabeth Acevedo Marin and Assis da Costa Oliveira

The current Brazilian government’s implantation of development policies prioritizes the building of large infrastructure projects (e.g., roads, ports, airports, gas pipelines) also named large-scale projects (Ribeiro, 2014) or development megaprojects (Timo, 2013).1 This facilitates the appropriation of natural resources (e.g., energy, minerals and the monocultures of the productive chain of interest for agribusiness). This is considered to be an economic growth strategy linked, on one hand, to the continuous expansion of production and circulation of export commodities to North American, Asian and European nations, profiting from increases in prices and the demand in international markets (Almeida, 2012; Malerba & Milanez, 2012; Mesquita, 2011). Conversely, the intensification of political, financial and social intervention of the Brazilian State by means of sectoral planning, loans’ concession and financial investment by public banks or pension funds, and the creation of wealth distribution programs directed to the poorest social classes has also occurred (Castro, 2013; Garzon, 2014).