Contested narratives for the city centre: Migration and (re)development
Athens’ inner city neighbourhoods have been on the forefront of public discourses and urban plans for more than a decade. Located at the heart of the city’s centre, Omonoia Square has been an arrival point of migrants (internal and external). Next to it and adjacent to the central market, the Commercial Triangle (or Gerani) hosted an array of commercial and small manufacturing activities and and small warehouses and offices. While warehousing receded, migrant businesses were established in the areas of Gerani and Metaxourgio as well as some informal and ‘undesirable’ for the city activities. As one walks further on towards central Metaxourgeio, it passes the so-called Chinatown, numerous abandoned or derelict buildings and brothels. Yet, almost immediately one will find itself within a neighbourhood full of bars, meze-places and restaurants as well as art galleries and projects. Nevertheless, gentrification hasn’t really worked as ‘expected’, while this side-by-side coexistence hasn’t always been uncontested. All three areas have been stigmatized as areas of high criminality, danger and health hazards, narrated as ghettos. Yet at the same time, they were earmarked for real estate speculation promoted by private interests and facilitated or supported by state plans and police sweep operations. This field-trip aims at describing the diverse but entangled narratives about the city centre, migration and (re)development.