Accepted Paper:

Destroying Ksamil: tourism, migration and uncertainty in an "informal settlement" in southern Albania  


Francesco Vietti (University of Milan-Bicocca)

Paper short abstract:

Ksamil is an informal settlement in southern Albania. In 2010 over 250 illegal houses built thanks to emigrants’ remittances were destroyed by local authorities. At the same time the economic crisis in Greece forced many migrants to return to Ksamil: today they have to live with their families in ruined houses waiting for an uncertain future.

Paper long abstract:

In Albania, informal settlement in and around urban areas started to emerge right after the collapse of the communist regime in 1991 with the removal of restriction on internal migration. Informal settlement in Ksamil started in the early 1990s on the former state olive farm. The current number of residents in the informal settlement is estimated at 4,000 people. Most of the residents have at least one family member working in Greece, sending remittances to their families. In the last decade Ksamil has become one of the most frequented coastal resorts in southern Albania, by both domestic and foreign tourists, but in June 2010 many buildings (over 250) were partially or totally destroyed. Local authorities responded to the massive dose of illegal housing, with police, bulldozers and the order to destroy the pillars of illegal constructions. The same bulldozers did not care about the dismantle of the debris and today Ksamil seems a bombed village. At the same time, the great economic crisis in Greece has forced many migrants to return to Ksamil and their families had to carved out safe spaces inside the damaged buildings. Living in a ruined house waiting for the next tourist season or the next attempt of emigration represents the way people in Ksamil manage their lives in an era of uncertainty.

Panel W069
Uncertainty and disquiet in the Mediterranean region