Urban boosterism in closed contexts: Spectacular urbanization and second-tier mega-events in three Caspian capitals

Natalie Koch, Anar Valiyev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper presents a case study of urban boosterism in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan-three resource-rich states around the Caspian Sea. Boosterist projects are typically justified through the injunction of, "build it and they will come." This cliché is a staple of how urban planners and elites seek to justify development schemes that lack an obvious demand. And while the logic underpinning urban boosterism hinges on a high degree of openness and freedom of movement-both for capital and people-it is a tactic increasingly being used in closed and otherwise illiberal states. Understanding the effects of this development is an important task as a growing number of urban planners in nondemocratic but resource-rich countries seek to develop spectacular new urban landscapes and position their cities as "world class" hubs for international mega-events-even if these are smaller, second-tier events. Exploring event-oriented urban development in Astana, Ashgabat, and Baku, we show how boosterist narratives are being re-deployed in closed contexts to promote the image of a benevolent and "magical state," as well as solidifying authoritarian political configurations and a selective engagement with market capitalism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-598
Number of pages24
JournalEurasian Geography and Economics
Volume56
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 3 2015

Keywords

  • Central Asia
  • iconicity
  • mega-events
  • rentier state
  • spectacular urbanization
  • urban boosterism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Economics and Econometrics

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