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Title: Regimes of land dispossession, crisis, and uneven development on Crete's contested edge
Author: Papadopoulou Korfiati, Ioanna
ISNI:       0000 0004 8508 8514
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2019
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By examining the political economy of two ongoing investments in land on Eastern Crete's area of Sitía, this thesis contributes intellectually to the research fields of the geographies of the crisis in Europe and the emerging global phenomenon of land grabs. On Sitía's mountains, private, highly fragmented land has become the "gateway" to Crete's increasingly monopolised renewable energy market. Investing companies generate access to production licences for energy projects and secure the control of both new and old technologies through the forcible appropriation of land. On Sitía's coasts, on a vast, undivided, contested monastery property of the Cape Sídero peninsula, an old-made-new land-deal for luxury tourism has been relaunched within the restructured legal and institutional environment created after the outburst of the 2008 crisis. Produced under narratives of "uniqueness" and "wildness", Cape Sídero's undercapitalised landscape has been shaped into a tremendous rent gap opportunity. Despite rushing to "secure" neighbouring stretches of land for two very different productive activities, both touristic real estate and renewable energy land-deals act as mechanisms of transforming productive rural and semi-rural land into terrains of monopoly rent extraction. Both projects are investment plans, yet their inconclusive nature is part of the dispossession process: by perpetuating the idea that the land is "empty" and underperforming in profit-generating terms, waiting for capital to be fixed on it, they submerge the landscape into a state of captivity and rob the place of alternatives. The dispossession of land becomes possible within the diachronically unstructured, overlapping, fragmentary framework of spatial planning, which creates landscapes with no institutional barriers against the combined efforts of investors and the state. An important part of this thesis has been exploring how the land is appropriated, and dissecting the state's role in this appropriating process. I argue that two different mechanisms of dispossession are mobilised in Sitía. The private, highly fragmented mountainous land on the mountains is classified as forestry, transferred to the management and the ownership of the state, and leased to renewable energy investors at the "beekeeper price" of just €50 per stremma. This is made possible through the mobilisation of the state's bureaucratic and normalising powers, which redefine the concept of forest and dispossess through classifying land as such. The large coastal property on the Cape Sídero peninsula, an area of great environmental and archaeological significance, is treated as a private "gap" in the country's spatial planning system. The creation of such a space of exception, I argue, presupposes the dispossession of not only of space itself, but also of the way of producing space. I have attempted, finally, to situate the above transformations on land within the ground-level political economic dynamics in Sitía, and to shed light on the ways the investment plans are supported, contested, and negotiated locally. Overall, this study emphasises the crucial role of land in political economy. By situating a case of land dispossession historically and geographically, in the particular formations that produce it, this thesis dissects the specific mechanisms of dispossession employed by the combined efforts of local networks of power, investors, and the state; it reaffirms the crucial re-regulating role of the latter in theories of dispossession; and it seeks to problematise the dialectic relationship of continuity and discontinuity between crisis and inherited, path-dependent landscapes of uneven geographical development.
Supervisor: Slater, Tom ; Kaminer, Tahl ; MacDonald, Fraser Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: land dispossession ; The State ; crisis ; uneven development ; Greece ; Crete