'This place has potential': Trash, culture, and urban regeneration in Tallinn, Estonia

Francisco Martínez*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)
    41 Downloads (Pure)


    The article analyses the use of cultural programmes and trash as tools for urban speculation in Tallinn, Estonia, naturalising an urban strategy that entails extensive spatial revaluation and socioeconomic intervention. Through an anthropological perspective focused on concepts of potential and trash, the analysis shows how the central-north shoreline was mobilised discursively as a wasteland and a zone of unrealised potential to justify capitalist development of the area. The way it was framed, both moving towards completion and as a playground for cultural activities and young people, increased the value and accessibility of the area, but also allowed real estate developers to exploit the synergies generated and make profit from the revaluated plots. Tropes of potential and trash appear thus as discursive tools for urban regeneration, co-related with a formal allocation of resources and official permits. As the case study shows, when an area is classed as having 'potential', it becomes defined by the fulfilment of that restrictive conceptualisation, which allows the economy to dictate urban planning and also cultural policy.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)4-22
    Number of pages19
    JournalSuomen antropologi
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017
    MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


    • European Capital of Culture
    • Politics of potentiality
    • Temporary uses
    • Urban regeneration
    • Wasteland
    • Waterfront of Tallinn


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