World-city-entrepreneurialism and its techne: the fluid (geo) politics of Europe’s largest real-estate project

Authors: Oleg Golubchikov*, Cardiff University, UK, Mirjam Büdenbender, Trinity College Dublin
Topics: Urban Geography, Russia, Business Geography
Keywords: Urban entrepreneurialism, neoliberalism, real estate development, mega projects, Moscow, Russia
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 2:40 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Grand Ballroom B, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The proliferation of globalist real-estate projects represents an important dimension of world-city-entrepreneurialism, which, in turn, signifies the intensification of the urban as a key scale of neoliberal globalization. It is often assumed, however, that globalist urban mega-projects are brought about by relatively coherent coalitions. We challenge these assumptions by studying the actual ‘techne’ of world-city-entrepreneurialism in the evolution of Moscow International Business Centre (MIBC), Europe’s largest mixed-use real-estate project. We demonstrate how the social relations and politics of MIBC have evolved in conversation with local, national, and international political economies. MIBC was initiated by the previous Moscow Mayor, but was originally met with opposition from developers. This changed during the period of economic boom, when the project started to expand, thanks to growth coalitions close to the Mayor himself. In the aftermath of the 2008 crisis, MIBC was again negatively affected by lack of finance; moreover, the new Moscow Mayor has been openly critical about MIBC since he took office in 2010. Despite all of this, the majority of MIBC’s skyscrapers, including currently top three of Europe’s tallest towers, were built right post-2008. This highlights the complex geo-politics and micro-politics of world-city-entrepreneurialism. As MIBC has evolved from being Moscow’s “inside-out” passage to globalization into an “outside-in” window onto Russia’s business development, a new “reluctant coalition” of stakeholders has formed around MIBC’s symbolic power. Overall, we argue that property development interests may be more ephemeral, emergent, and context-dependant rather than fixed, durable and universal.

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