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Accepted Paper:

Rewriting Futures: Impacts of "western," "eastern," "bottom-up," and "top-down" agencies on COSCO’s new Masterplan for the Port of Piraeus.  
Giorgos Poulimenakos (University of Oslo)

Paper Short Abstract:

COSCO's new masterplan for the future of the Port of Piraeus raises local fears of 'Chinafication,' stirring environmental and economic concerns .However, ethnographic research uncovers the active involvement of pre-COSCO local and global agents that lead to today's visions for the future.

Paper Abstract:

Piraeus, Greece's largest port, has become a vital component in China's infrastructural expansion strategy—the "Belt and Road Initiative." Amidst a complex conjuncture involving stakeholders such as the European Union, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund "troika," which enforced extensive privatization projects during Greece's financial crisis, and China's long-term goal of bridging infrastructural gaps along maritime trade routes, the port underwent gradual privatization, eventually being sold to Chinese interests . This transformation positioned Piraeus as a globally competitive container port.

Following its acquisition by COSCO, the Chinese shipping company, a new masterplan was devised and published. This plan not only committed to investments in the container sector but also aimed to elevate the tourist potential of Piraeus through funding for cruise terminals and real estate within the port's boundaries, including hotels and casinos. For local radical voices and social movements, this strategic move signifies a perceived neo-colonial agenda, anticipating the "Chinafication" of Piraeus, marked by port expansion through land reclamation, escalating environmental degradation, and the commodification of the city without substantial benefits flowing to the local market.

However, ethnographic research uncovers a more intricate narrative. This paper illustrates how the existing masterplan has been shaped and reshaped through speculations, strategies, and interests that were already in motion long before the concession to COSCO. Contrary to being a meticulously planned strategy dictated solely by Chinese capital, the masterplan encapsulates strategies and imaginaries about the future of Piraeus originating from local real estate capital, the EU, left-wing organizations, and, eventually, COSCO.

Panel P171
Waterfront speculation: doing and undoing maritime urban spaces
  Session 1 Wednesday 24 July, 2024, -