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Article

The geopolitics of real estate: assembling soft power via property markets

International Journal of Housing Policy. 2017. Vol. 17. No. 1. P. 75-96.
Büdenbender M., Golubchikov O.

The article problematises the role of real estate in geopolitical circulations. The internationalisation of real estate increases mutual dependencies and vulnerabilities between nation states and, therefore, calls for a better appreciation of the geopolitical externalities and exteriorities of real estate. The article brings together disjoint bodies of literature on real estate globalisation, assemblage theory, and international relations to show how real estate is a case of the geopolitics of the multiple – geopolitics that is being assembled by diverse and distributed actors, discourses, and materialities representing the contingent and emergent formation of connections and considerations, which affect the ways how foreign relations are negotiated today. The argument is substantiated by considering several dimensions of the real estate/geopolitics nexus: (1) external influences over domestic real estate markets; (2) the implications of outward real estate investment; and (3) state-led mega-projects conveying externally the power of the state. These dimensions are considered empirically in the context of the renewed geopolitical tensions between a resurgent Russia and the West. Overall, the article calls for a better positioning of real estate in the conceptualisations of soft power, state power, and geopolitics.