Accepted paper:

Materialities of economic growth: Special Economic Zone as the realization of 'the neoliberal rural dystopia'


Marta Songin-Mokrzan (University of Łódź)

Paper short abstract:

The aim of the presentation is to retrace sociospatial and cultural transformations of the rural areas subjected to neoliberalization processes. I will particularly focus on the materialities of economic growth and their impact on reshaping the imaginaries of the local communities.

Paper long abstract:

In the course of systemic transformation Poland has adopted growth-oriented approach toward development and a line of politics that supports it. One of the key assumptions underlying this approach is the idea that the influx of international capital is an indispensable condition for stimulating economy at macro and micro levels. For this reason, the consecutive governments have been introducing legal mechanisms which offer investment incentives to foreign entrepreneurs. As a result of these efforts, in 1995 the first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) was established. Since then, Poland has created another 13 zones, mainly in rural areas. These neoliberal procedures of restructuring ruralities have contributed to the sociospatial reorganization of the local landscapes. In my presentation I would like to explore the cultural consequences of the economic transformation processes through the prism of the manifestations of economic growth in rural Poland. I will particularly focus on the changes that have occurred in a commune which is well-known for its active policy on attracting foreign investors. My point of departure is the territory, occupied by the SEZ, which I conceive as a certain time-space material palimpsest representative of the scenario of economic transition: from the utopia of state-owned collective farms to the neoliberal dystopian industrialization with its complex infrastructure. Questions of my interest are as follows: what are the material indicators of growth in rural areas?; what meanings are attached to them?; and in what ways do they redefine the imaginative landscapes of the local communities?

panel Rur004
Market-oriented global discourses and the reshaping of rural spaces