Since the mid-1990s, much of Central America has enjoyed a relative sense of political peace after decades of internal civil conflict fueled by land tenure rights and the unequal distribution of resources. While the aftermath of such conflicts has left significant scars on the built environment of Central American countries, the legacy of a briefly interrupted colonial framework of production and capital accumulation has induced a state of dual and uneven transitions: post-war reconstruction and neoliberal speculation.

Using the potential path for an inter-oceanic canal through Nicaragua as its primary site of investigation, this project will trace how transitions and changes over time have historically altered how the megaproject is planned and presented. Thus, expanding on Barthes’ theory on the “metaphorical nature of urban discourse,” the project will highlight and animate the symbolism behind the canal as today’s post-conflict and postmodern endeavor.

The project will rely on historical maps, reports, and imagery to peel back the different layers that have led to the latest proposals for the canal. Then, using contemporary studies, imagery and geospatial data, the project will quantify and visualize the impact the latest proposal for the megaproject will have on the spatial and social conditions of Nicaragua. To provoke further engagement, the project will be presented as an interactive website in which visitors will be able to not only trace the plans proposed for the canal over time, but also speculate as to what ultimate path the project will take given an array of potential and near-future social and spatial scenarios.

The ultimate aim of the project will be to understand not only how the chronic changing state of Nicaragua and Central America has impacted its social and spatial environments, but also what the future holds for the region given its current set of dueling and unresolved transitions and how does such discourse, from a symbolic and literal perspective, ultimately help shape how the project is manifested spatially and metaphorically.

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