Anglo Irish bank headquarters - Docklands - Dublin

The current moment is a critical one for Irish geography. The NAMA (National Asset Management Agency) legislation will have dramatic impacts on the spatial and economic profile of the Irish landscape. Already the nation is increasingly haunted by a series of ghost estates, while many new office and apartment developments stand deathly still echoing their own emptiness. The primacy of property development and speculation to the apparatus of the Irish economy, combined with irresponsible lending practices by banks and poor policy regulation in both sectors, has left a banking system bereft of credit, choking with ‘toxic’ debt, and a landscape charred with these aborted plans and failed spaces. The outcomes of this type of ‘rip-and-run’ development are only now beginning to be felt.

This type of spatiality is arguably the product of a set of neoliberal policies that have increasingly characterised the Irish political landscape over the last two decades. Looked at through the lens of theories in economic, urban, and political geography, the neoliberalisation of the Irish state has broadly resulted the increasing withdrawal of state support for social policy, in favour of policies supporting businesses and property developers. Spatially, this has meant burgeoning emphasis on landscapes of consumption, the financialisation of the city, and the disenfranchisement of working class populations. The over-reliance on policies of this sort left Ireland vulnerable to the global crash of 2008 and, in part, heralded in a national recession. With the NAMA legislation, the state’s response has been to attempt to solve a neoliberal problem with a neoliberal solution.

With this in mind we organised a one-day round-table discussion on ‘Geography after NAMA’ on November 23rd, 2009, which accounted for a planning/policy and a disciplinary perspective on this statement. The aim was to stimulate a discussion on the state of play for Irish geography and the geography of Ireland in the wake of the recession, to provide a statement of where we are at, how we got there, where we are headed, and what should geographers be doing. The goal is to stimulate an agenda of questions with which to interrogate the current moment, and the future impact of NAMA on Irish space, society, and politics. By situating Ireland within its relational geographies and drawing upon what we now see as global economy, urban geography and spatial and social theory, we seek to provide a platform upon which to envision a series of alternatives – narratives, policies, futures – with which to address current problems through a geographical or spatial perspective. This meeting is meant to form the first in a sequence, with the aim of publishing a multi-authored statement on the theme, and creating some sort of media profile for Geographical perspectives on the economic crisis. This blog was created with a view to emulate debate on an on-going basis, providing a platform to share thoughts, ideas, comments and reactions around the geography and spatiality of NAMA and the economic crisis, as well as a forum for proposing alternatives.

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