Scalar Struggles: The Selectivity of Development Governance in Southern Mexico
So-called development projects in rural Mexico are heavily contested. Changes in institutional design have had little effect in mediating the exclusivity of the political decision-making processes defining such projects. Why, and how, has the Mexican state been able to maintain a developmentalist agenda, despite growing pressures to incorporate participatory development institutions and consult Indigenous peoples about development projects? This article introduces the geographic concept of scale and the concept of the state’s heterogeneous selectivities into debates on participation to study the politics of development projects. It analyzes the potential and existing obstacles to political participation for Indigenous networks and activists in the corresponding planning processes across institutional scales, examining protest against wind energy development in the state of Oaxaca and the project of “rural cities” in the state of Chiapas. Rather than two separate cases for comparison, both examples represent different planning processes involving the same heterogeneous state and the same promise of progress.