Europe's Exploding Edges: The Social Response to 2008 'crisis Landscapes' in Coastal Spain and Bulgaria

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:45
Location: Hörsaal III (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Max HOLLERAN, New York University, USA
One of the most characteristic aspects of the European periphery during the important years of cohesion, 1995-2008, was the explosion of property markets: particularly second-homes, hotels, and suburbs. Much of the ‘edges’ of Europe were paved over using EU development funds, newly liquid credit, and revenue from direct foreign investment. This project examines the rapid growth of coastal leisure spaces and the social response to these developments before and after the 2008 crisis. It uses two cases: the development-saturated Costa Blanca in Spain, part of the original Mediterranean periphery, and the Black Sea coast in Bulgaria; the newest post-socialist periphery. It argues that much of the economic and urban development logic used in the Mediterranean periphery in the 1990s was adapted as EU institutional practice and reused in the post-socialist periphery in the 1990s and early 2000s.

The study analyzes political-economic reasons for the explosion of peripheral property markets, before 2008, as well as the social response to the expansion of coastal development. Using two years of ethnographic research with architects, developers, and environmentalists in Bulgaria and Spain, the paper will examine how notions of 'core' and 'periphery' changed before and after the 2008 property bubble. New coastal developments were often seen as spaces of aspiration but, after the crisis, quickly became spaces of disappointment and derelict spaces often reinforced the idea of peripherality. The paper, a segment of my dissertation, also has a specific focus on how stakeholders in urban development used growth to discuss and contest competing notions of Europeanness.