A Permanent Crisis
Coastal Protection in Sicily
This article discusses hydrosocial processes and knowledge power relations associated with coastal protection in Sicily. Unsustainable coastal interventions are especially palpable in Sicily and are leading to a permanent crises of erosion and the building of expensive hard coastal infrastructures. My presentation analyses the interests, practices and socio-technical imaginaries of public and private actors and their interactions in Gioiosa Marea, Sicily. Gioiosa Marea is affected by constant erosion and flooding. The answers to erosion and flooding are mostly hard coastal protection infrastructures like groins and breakwaters that are built in an emergency mode, avoiding regular legal, administrative and planning procedures. These processes are taking shape against the background of a building sector that is an important pillar of the Sicilian economy and that has enriched itself by informal and illegal constructions in (protected) coastal areas and by building public coastal infrastructures. Based on a strong epistemic community of coastal engineers, a public opinion that feels well protected by concrete infrastructures and an understanding of economic development that is mostly understood as building all over the coast, an ontological politics of concrete has formed in coastal protection in Sicily that seems to be hard to overcome. The presentation will discuss how ontological politics of concrete are evolving, who is opposing these politics based on arguments connected to sustainability and climate change and how transformative ways out of these damaging pathways can be found.