Finance and Water Politics in Brazil

Le 09 décembre 2022 14:00 - 16:00

La prochaine séance du séminaire du Laboratoire Techniques Territoires et Sociétés (LATTS) se tiendra le 9 décembre à 14h, en mode hybride.

Isadora Cruxên, enseignante et chercheuse à l'université Queen Mary de Londres, présentera une communication intitulée : Finance and Water Politics in Brazil.

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ID de réunion : 884 7755 7733 - Mot de passe : BFmKZML6

What are the political implications of financial investment for the provision of essential infrastructure services such as water and sanitation? Existing urban political economy scholarship has revealed an important role for states and other intermediaries in enabling financial deepening within cities. However, these analyses tend to position financial investors as relatively removed from the everyday politics of making financialization happen.

This study spotlights the political agency of investors. Through comparative analysis of private water companies in Brazil, I explore what kind of political and regulatory relations financial investors such as private equity groups engender-and what political tensions emerge-after they acquire ownership stakes in urban service providers. My analysis reveals that securing financial returns may require political (re-)engineering. I show that while private water companies were quite engaged in local politics under their original owners (construction business groups), under finance they sought to “escape” it by curbing ties to public officials, reducing the autonomy of local subsidiaries, and mobilizing for the standardization of regulatory activities at the national level. I argue these centralizing efforts constituted forms of centripetal politics meant to enhance asset monitoring, increase regulatory legibility, and ensure stable returns within a fragmented political environment. These findings problematize the conventional analytical focus on how financial investors capitalize on local forms of entrepreneurial or speculative politics. They also reveal the need to treat institutional environments not simply as “filters” for financial investment but as objects of political contestation by finance. This opens a window for illuminating the blurry boundaries between finance and politics, and, crucially, for politicizing finance.