Revealing disconnections in an Eastern European special economic zone
This short paper presents the work-in-progress of research aimed at a meaningful transformation of a large-scale infrastructure space in Bulgaria. As part of an action research doctoral project, the paper explores the possibilities for the transformation of Trakia economic zone TEZ from an extractive operation into a space with local value. Starting from the ideological position that change is always possible, the research test how we can counteract the dominant global narrative of contemporary production from a local perspective.
The paper describes the historical development of the industrial zone, highlights how the complex-mix of actors design use and transform the spatial reality of TEZ, and presents three tensions that occur in the actual reality of TEZ. Those tensions are not isolated processes but are instead part of an ecosystem of ambitions, perceptions, and activities. Therefore, we need to employ a systemic understanding of tensions to produce long-lasting change. The presented questions in the paper seek to raise a debate about the nature of tensions, their conceptual frameworks, and possible action strategies for activating tensions thoughtfully.
Keywords: capital-led development, infrastructure space, soft-system methodology, transformation, action research