François Chevalier fellow
Central European University
The socioeconomic origins of water scarcity in Doñana
After obtaining a Phd from the Sociology and Social Anthropology Department of the Central European University in 2016, Natalia Buier joined the Financialisation research group at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. Her doctoral dissertation addresses the relationship between historical memory and the restructuring of the Spanish national railways during the post-Francoist period. At MPI, as a postdoctoral research fellow, she has been studying the relationship between financialization and Spanish infrastructure development through a focus on the development of Spanish high-speed rail. Her new research project builds on her previous interest in capitalist environment making processes and addresses the social origins of water scarcity in southwestern Spain.
Natalia Buier’s project addresses the case of groundwater overexploitation in the Doñana region. A World Heritage Site, Doñana has figured prominently in the European conservation agenda. The Doñana region is also one of the most important areas of strawberry farming in the world. The post-Francoist rise of water-intensive agriculture is considered to be the main threat to the hydric resources of one of Europe´s most important wetland areas. This has taken the form of a confrontation between environmentalists and farmers: ecological instability, it is argued, is the price for social development. This project seeks to correct the dominant interpretations of groundwater scarcity in the region by looking at the shared origins of ecological instability and social vulnerability. Through historical ethnography that treats these processes as related aspects of a unitary ecological regime, Natalia Buier seeks to cast light on the mutual constitution of the appropriation of natural resources and the exploitation of labor.
Buier, Natalia. “High-Speed Contradictions: Spanish Railways between Economic Criticism and Political Defence”, in Birch, K. and Muniesa, F. (eds.). Turning things into Assets, Cambridge MA: MIT Press. Forthcoming.
Buier, Natalia. 2018. “Trainmasters or Easyjet pilots? Historical production, labor organizing, and the Spanish engine drivers’ union.” Dialectical Anthropology 42(3): 257-275