Featured image courtesy of author Michael Leung: NO TAV LIBERI/E (No high-speed train, liberate (feminine and masculine, respectively). Matera, 17th November 2019.

ON LAND is a series of on-going research notes by doctoral researcher Michael Leung with “Insurrectionary Agricultural Milieux” as his working thesis title. [] 梁志剛「在地」手記第一記,由一頓飯開始,英語、法語、西班牙話都好,總能溝通。…不管在那裡,只要留神,你會在交通幹線上的某處看到「no TAV!」。

 

“For the past few months I’ve been visiting different collectives in France and the Basque Country. Here are some field notes, photos, fiction and indeterminacies—some written on my journey and some during confinement.” — Michael Leung

All images on this page are courtesy of researcher Michael Leung. Source: www.insurrectionaryam.tumblr.com

 

2020.02.03 | NoTAVs Everywhere

Tonight over dinner — a spicy chickpea and vegetable soup, humus, freshly baked bread and a revitalised salad from today’s lunch, all cooked by M. M. and I (yes three M’s, the lunch salad was by another M. too). — in five languages (in no particular order Spanish, French, English, German and Basque) we spoke about the high-speed train proposed in this region of the Basque Country — also referred to as the TAV, which I learnt is commonly used in Italy, France and the Basque Country. The name, Treno Alta Velocità, meaning “high-speed train,” comes from Italy, and features in Mauvaise Troupe Collective and Kristin Ross’ inspiring book, The Zad and NoTAV — a detailed journey between two land struggles, the former an autonomous region in the west of France. [1]

Last November I was in Matera in the south of Italy and saw the above graffiti when I was cycling downhill to an office to do some scanning. I recall the stories in The Zad and NoTAV and the enduring resistance of the people in the Susa Valley and the impact on alpine fauna such as chamois, red deer, roe deer, wild boar, over eight bumblebees species, eagles, hawks, partridges and Italian wolves (who “regulate” ungulate species).

The Matera graffiti is over 1,000 kilometres away from the Susa Valley, on the opposite side of Italy. I’m now slightly below west, 1,000 kilometres from the Susa Valley, staying in a former nun’s convent preparing for the annual Reclaim the Fields European Assembly in the Basque Country. This explains why we are talking several languages, and where my GCSE French and Spanish are being put to good use. My secondary school French teacher used to talk about the Basque Country and mentioned that the people in the (French) Basque Country were “weird.” She never elaborated and we never asked. I’ll have to discuss this with my best friend…

Image shared by an AHTrik ez (No high-speed train) activist, 7th February 2020.

I’m now also 10,000 kilometres from home, but at dinner we speak about similar struggles: the Guangzhou–Hong Kong high-speed rail (XRL) that destroyed Choi Yuen Village in 2010 (in my first year in Hong Kong) and the High Speed 2 (HS2) which proposes to link 21 locations in the UK. [2] We spoke about if there were links/exchanges between the three NoTav countries, and even with HS2. A member of the collective here said that the NoTav movement here only focuses in the region and in parallel with the Basque independence movement, so as to mobilise more support and not be an isolated movement focused solely on one issue. In other words “their” movement shares a platform for others to participate. I spoke about recent issues in Hong Kong with regards to the wishful independence movement in Hong Kong—now heard in low to medium volume when slogans are being shouted on the street. Now, not even the “Mong Kok sign guy” with glasses, always sans-gear, waves the “Hong Kong Independence” blue and white flag any more…

“Mong Kok sign guy” illustration, Hong Kong, 8th December 2014.

There’s so much to learn here and I’m brought back to the website that I bookmarked by Martin Krenn, an Austrian artist/researcher and curator www.martinkrenn.net/choi_yuen_village/info.html?fbclid=IwAR2lBRdaPjs-Ked7meyjgrEzvRTE4oK7RRbQbNPXngbQc0cpy1hS0mCones . I might share this short text with him too.

Gabon (good night in Basque)

Monday 3rd February 2020, Basque Country
www.tinyurl.com/NoTAVsEverywhere 

P.S. Later, with another M (!), we spoke about other infrastructure projects such as the new metro line and metro carriage depot (Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency) [3] deforesting Aarey Forest in Mumbai, the numerous train networks being funded by the Chinese Communist Party in Africa and the “13 Big Useless Projects” in Europe. [4]

AHTrik EZ! (No high-speed train), Altsasu, 31st January 2020.

 

High-speed train carriages stored on formerly rural land, 8th February 2020.

[1] www.tinyurl.com/WorkingfortheCommons

[2] I learnt about HS2 in 2018 from L. at Grow Heathrow, a ten-year land squat opposing Heathrow Airport’s third runway. https://www.facebook.com/STOP.HS2

[3] www.tinyurl.com/MakingKin1

[4]  13: https://aeroportnddl.fr/articles.php?lng=fr&pg=747 30+: Meanwhile in Hong Kong https://hongkongfp.com/2015/10/13/money-pits-8-hong-kong-government-white-elephant-projects

Le Collectif

 

Related Readings:

Michael Leung’s <ON LAND> series