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(Toxi)City of steel: steelmaking infrastructure and social contestation in a case of contamination by industrial waste

Maria Raquel Passos Lima
Captura de Tela 2021-05-18 às 16.03.29

The article analyzes the case of contamination of the “Volta Grande IV” neighborhood by industrial waste from Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional (CSN), in the city of Volta Redonda, South of Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. The notion of “steelmaking infrastructure” is developed as a key concept that enables to integrate conceptually and ethnographically the invisible dimension of steel production, by focusing on the residual side of the infrastructure, characterized by toxicity. The focus is to understand power relations and political dynamics engendered by toxic substances in the configuration of contentious arenas around their potential uses and effects. The ethnographic narrative proceeds by presenting four scenarios – contamination, scientific controversy, the legal process and the environmental arena – and adopts time as a privileged object, discussing the ways in which divergent temporalities differentially traverse infrastructure and its political effects in the construction of corporate strategies and social contestation processes, that shape a “resilient politics”.

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