Conference paper

Perspectives on becoming new port: a discursive account of stakeholder opinions in the renaming of Port Adelaide

Waterfronts Urban renewal Cities and towns Urban planning Adelaide Port Adelaide
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Recent trends in urban theory and policy have revealed an explicit emphasis on the redevelopment and revitalisation of redundant industrial landscapes. Such projects are typically spearheaded by entrepreneurial collaborations which purport an economically vital and socially empowering future. The template for these forms of landscape regeneration programs is now ubiquitous. Specifically, large-scale, mixed use developments promoting postindustrial identities and lifestyles are juxtaposed against the former industrial, blue collar identities of these places. Supplementing this is the aim to reorient such redundant landscapes of production to postindustrial places of consumption. Effectively, this postindustrial transformation witnesses the rebirth of places as progressive, vibrant and economically prosperous. To realise this transformation, the physical landscape of the industrial past is demolished. Concurrently, aggressive reimaging campaigns are mobilised to diffuse or submerge the stigma attached to and communicated through the industrial landscape. The act of creating new post-industrial places demands that industrial spaces be destroyed. Zukin (1991) refers to this process as ‘creative destruction’. However, this process is never absolute. Traces of industrial heritage and identity often linger and emerge to problematise or contest the newly reconstructed postindustrial discourse (see Healey 2005; Rofe 2004; Rofe & Szili 2009; Szili & Rofe 2009). This is particularly pertinent to local communities whose identities and heritage are intimately tied to the industrial landscape. This paper draws upon ongoing research that has investigated the redevelopment of the Port Adelaide waterfront in South Australia (see Rofe 2007; Rofe & Oakley 2006; Szili & Rofe 2007; Rofe & Szili 2009). Specifically, it focuses on the recent approval to create a new suburb within Port Adelaide by renaming the redevelopment site, New Port. Developing previous research (see Rofe & Szili 2009), the authors contend that place names such as Port Adelaide may be so infused with negativity that attempts to renegotiate its meaning through physical redevelopment and traditional place marketing strategies are seemingly unachievable. Considering this, developers may often employ more radical strategies to inscribe new discursive landscapes within existing places. However, the processes of redevelopment and renaming also herald material and contested outcomes. Whilst previous research has addressed the rhetorical (see Rofe & Szili 2009) and political (see Szili & Rofe 2009) consequences of renaming, this paper offers a more nuanced, discursive account of stakeholder opinions as expressed through in-depth interviews throughout the renaming process. The focus on interview data effectively contextualises the public construction and meaning of place names to reveal the diversity of perception within stakeholder groups. The paper thus contributes to more critical understandings of the power of identity, place names and renaming and their connection to urban regenerative practice.

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