Infrastructure and Racial Capitalism

Infrastructure and Racial Capitalism: The Case of the Mayan Train

Postdoctoral project

El Tren Maya—the Mayan Train—is one of the most important infrastructural and developmental projects of the 2018-2024 Mexican federal administration led by president Andrés Manuel López Obrador. A proposal to construct “1,500 kilometers of hope” in the form of a rail network connecting urban centers and secondary settlements across five states in the southeast of the country, the mega project aims, according to its official website, to “improve the quality of life of people, take care of the environment and trigger sustainable development” by “integrating” the region to the rest of the nation and increasing the number of tourists that visit the “Mayan World.” After a referendum criticized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for not following international standards, and without an environmental impact assessment, construction began in 2020—despite protests from indigenous groups, voiced concerns of scientists and environmental activists, and the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

This project aims to analyze the imaginaries constructed by the government in the form of websites, brochures, promotional videos, and policy documents to explore the interplay between racial capitalism and infrastructure against a background of commodification of Mayan culture.


Date Completed