The town assembled: the social interference of quasi-objects in Camí de sirga

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This essay proposes that Jesús Moncada’s Camí de sirga (The Towpath) depicts the social as a complex assemblage composed of a vortex of interfacing subcomponents. The novel fictionalizes the final half-century of Mequinensa, an Aragonese town flooded due to the construction of the Riba-roja reservoir. I argue that Camí de sirga grants two natural objects–the Ebre River and lignite coal–a vibrant agency that by turns territorializes and deterritorializes Mequinensa’s modes of collective being. In this way, the Ebre and coal are both natural and cultural at once and mimic the function of what Michel Serres termed “quasi-objects”. Through its emphasis on the mediating function of quasi-objects, Camí de sirga shows that any ontology of place must consider the agentive possibilities of nonhuman elements to explain what motivates and inflects social association. In addition, the essay will draw upon Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of assemblage to show how a close examination of a small town on the franja d’Aragó illuminates macro-processes of transformation, such as Franco’s hydro-modernization of the Spanish landscape from the 1950s onwards, as well as the evolving relationship between war, revolution and fossil-fuel production earlier in the twentieth century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-290
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Spanish Cultural Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2017


  • Assemblage
  • Camí de sirga
  • Jesús Moncada
  • climate politics
  • quasi-object


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