News & Events

Cosmopolis Lunch Seminar with Jorn Koelemaij (UG)

13 February 2020 , Geography Dept. - Room F 4.66- (VUB - Pleinlaan 2, BE-1050 Brussels, Building F) from 12.00h to 13.30h

Transnational Real Estate Development Through Megaprojects: Constructing Global City Fantasies in the Geo-Entrepreneurial Era.

Abstract of Presentation:

Many cities across the world today try to improve their visibility ‘on the map’ by constructing large-scale, luxury real estate projects. While David Harvey already foresaw this trend when he launched his ‘urban entrepreneurialism’ concept back in 1989, quite a few things have changed within the global (political) economy ever since. It has, for instance, become increasingly common that political elites in late development contexts actively attract FDI in order to be able realize these projects, while the suppliers of capital (and expertise) increasingly often tend to be from ‘emerging economies’ with so-called ‘state-capitalist’ systems.

My PhD-research particularly addresses the logics and strategies behind these contemporary ‘geo-entrepreneurial’, transnational real estate development projects (TREDs). In doing so, the perspectives of both the transnational developers and the recipient governments are included. I argue that in order to understand the 21st-century geographies of, and the dynamics behind these TREDs, one should bear in mind two things: 1) geopolitical and geoeconomic motivations and strategies are often closely intertwined, and 2) depoliticized large-scale urban development projects can serve as a tool for aspiring authoritarian governments to assert and legitimize their power position.

In this lunch seminar, the main, overarching narrative of my ongoing PhD-research will be discussed. Against that backdrop, I selectively present some relevant empirical findings (e.g. from my case studies in Serbia and the United Arab Emirates), while reflecting upon a number of theoretical concepts and debates that I aim to contribute to. Besides, I will share the preliminary general conclusions, and come up with a number of suggestions for follow-up research. 

Bio speaker:

Jorn is a PhD-Candidate at the Social and Economic Geography Research Group at Ghent University. His research focuses on the 'where, what, how and why' behind contemporary large-scale transnational real estate development projects. He focuses in particular on projects that have been announced on behalf of developers from the United Arab Emirates from the early 21st century onwards, and conducted specific case study research on the Belgrade Waterfront-project, that was launched in 2014. On this basis, he assesses to what extent the dynamics behind suchlike projects can be interpreted and explained by existing political economic theories, while he specifically aims to understand how geoeconomic and geopolitical drivers intersect.