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Waterfront speculation: doing and undoing maritime urban spaces 
Luisa Piart (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)
Giorgos Poulimenakos (University of Oslo)
Johanna Markkula (Central European University)
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Hege Leivestad (University of Oslo)
Jon Schubert (University of Basel)
Nikhil Anand (University of Pennsylvania)
Brenda Chalfin (University of Florida and Aarhus University)
Elisabeth Schober (University of Oslo)
Wednesday 24 July, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Madrid
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Short Abstract:

Along with the capitalist expansion, waterfronts have been turned into urban grounds through massive projects of land reclamation, infrastructure, and resettlement. The papers in this panel engage with the shaping of maritime urban spaces as sites of speculation at the margins of land and water.

Long Abstract:

While virtualism, progressive abstraction and sea-blindness have been identified as defining features of neoliberal capitalism, in this panel we turn our attention to speculation in its materially grounded waterfront manifestations. Following Laura Bear, we understand speculation as a ‘technology of imagination’ that is ‘deployed to anticipate the future, to stimulate its emergence, and to control it’ (2020:8). Building on these insights, the panel questions the doing and undoing of urban waterfronts by exploring future-oriented projects that, while impacted by financialization, cannot be reduced to questions of capital accumulation. Port cities today compete with each other by dredging ever-deeper shipping lanes and reclaiming new land from the sea. Yet large-scale shipyards, oil refineries, shipping, and fishing port facilities can quickly become obsolete. Some of these defunct maritime infrastructures are being repurposed into high-profile urban developments, gutting inner-city, working-class neighbourhoods that house fishers, shipyard workers, and seafarers in the process. Preserving access to the seashore and holding tidal waters at bay are different projects that entail different forms of speculative labour. What role does the sea, and the livelihoods that the sea affords, play in urban accumulation and planning strategies? How does the ‘greening’ of maritime cities and economies and the movement towards ‘blue growth’ contribute to contemporary urban development? And how are tensions and struggles manifesting themselves in response to speculative futures emerging in these cities by the sea? By exploring urban waterfront futures-in-the-making via ethnographic cases from around the world, we tease out how maritime urban spaces are (un-)done today.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Wednesday 24 July, 2024, -
Session 2 Wednesday 24 July, 2024, -