RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016


84 Nexus Thinking in Gentrification Studies (2)
Affiliation Urban Geography Research Group
Rural Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Loretta Lees (University of Leicester, UK)
Martin Phillips (University of Leicester, UK)
Chair(s) Sandra Annunziata (University of Leicester, UK)
Timetable Wednesday 31 August 2016, Session 3 (14:40 - 16:20)
Session abstract Most scholars in gentrification studies, if not all, have long been open to and inclusive of different geographies of gentrification. Debates over time around different geographies of gentrification have triggered useful reflections on the process, theories of it, its key concepts, and the term itself (e.g. Rose, 1984; Phillips, 2004; Davidson and Lees, 2005; Janoschka et al, 2014). Those scholars who have been open and inclusive have sought to reconceptualise and re-theorise gentrification in light of different geographies, those who have not have often retrenched into older, classic ideas about gentrification or rejected the gentrification label itself. This session seeks to foster new debate on both old and new geographies of gentrification - in the loosest sense – from rural gentrification to new-build gentrification, from Latin American gentrification to Anglo-American gentrification, from pioneer gentrification to creative gentrification, and so on. In particular we focus on the connections and disconnections, the inclusions and exclusions, around different geographies of gentrification. Indeed, one might say that we are looking for nexus thinking with respect to the geographies of gentrification: considering how gentrification emerges in contexts of growing interdependencies, irreconcilable demands and complex and contested trade-offs between different human and more-than-human actants located in differentiated and yet inter-connected places. In these sessions we will seek to re-evaluate where we are at in C21st gentrification studies and indeed where we need to be.
Linked Sessions Nexus Thinking in Gentrification Studies (1)
Nexus Thinking in Gentrification Studies (3)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2016@rgs.org
Social tectonics and volcanic singularities: A relational approach to gentrification and social mixing
Freek Dehaan (Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
While planning paradigms of social mix aim at creating socially cohesive neighborhoods with spaces of encounter, communication and participation amongst different classes and ethnic groups, daily lifeworlds often reveal practices diverging far from that ideal. Against the promising visions of governmental actors, the gentrification literature narrates a stark reality of social indifference, othering, disaffiliation and social 'tectonics' on the level of habitus interaction. However, invaluable as these critiques may be, they tend to endorse the same integration ideals as their positivist other, yet with a focus on their failure. In this paper I want to explore the manifold practices of socialization in mixed neighborhoods with a more open perspective. A frame of thought is developed with elements of intra-action (Barad, 2007), assemblage (DeLanda, 1997) and practice theory (Sloterdijk, 2013) to arrive at an idea of the cultivation of 'volcanic singularities', i.e. of events where tectonic habits are broken. While these events may not be directly visible in socio-economic statistics ('social mobility') or as having lasting effects on daily interaction, they still turn out to be very relevant to neighborhood life in their own singular way. The theory will be supported by a comparative description of a public event in Klarendal (Arnhem, NL), a public place in Cihangir (Istanbul, TR) and a public space in Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus (Vienna, AT).
Geographies of resistance to state-led gentrification in Istanbul: tracing the stories of future struggle in the everyday practices of Okmeydani dwellers
Clara Rivas-Alonso (University of Leicester, UK)
Gentrification studies have mainly focused on North-American and European cases. This paper seeks to decolonize (drawing on Spivak, 1993) the gentrification literature away from Euro-American perspectives by investigating gentrification and practices of resistance in Istanbul. It also problematizes the post-colonial perspective through relational approaches responding to the most recent calls to widen the epistemological framework towards a planetary outlook (Lees, L., Shin,H. and Lopez-Morales, E., 2016). My paper attempts to identify the radical political statement within an everyday life overshadowed by the possibility of physical and symbolic eviction through state intervention and further gentrification. Specifically I seen to answer the following question: How do different actors/actants negotiate the possibility of a state-led gentrifying project in the neighbourhood of Okmeydani? It therefore seeks to push the boundaries of what has been understood so far as gentrification processes in order to 'dislocate' perspectives (Ong and Roy, 2011) and add to current academic conversations on what constitutes or does not constitute gentrification. This paper seeks to present the different dwellers' stories as intertwined with other actants, as the nexus of juxtaposed narratives and at times inconsistent processes making up the landscape of a pre-gentrified central neighbourhood in Istanbul. Furthermore, I seek to demonstrate how urbanizing spaces in the context of contemporary Turkey assemble a number of actors and interests, including the militarization of neighbourhood spaces, criminalization of dissent and stigmatization of difference. In the face of relentless and normalised state violence, spaces such as Okmeydani are reproduced and reconstituted as spaces of possibility through the unpacking of solidarity practices that reflect different understandings of collectivity and resistance. In doing so, I seek to highlight the weaknesses of a system that is normally portrayed as a homogeneous solid force void of "leaks" or the possibility of "leakage". This paper thus reclaims collectively-constructed spaces as the spaces where the possibilities of unexpected interactions take place.
English urban gentrifications (2001-2011): wealth concentration in the midst of super-diversity
Antoine Paccoud (Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research, Luxembourg)
This paper is an investigation of gentrification in a geography marked by 'urban super-diversity' (Vertovec, 2007; Hall, 2015) and 'increasing diversity within increasing diversity' (Johnston et al., 2015) as well as by a proliferation of forms of gentrification (Davidson and Lees, 2005; 2010; Butler and Lees, 2006; Lees, 2008; Butler et al., 2013: Watt, 2013: Paccoud, 2015). Within this context, and as a counterpoint to this apparent state of flux, the paper argues that gentrification is silently contributing to the re-concentration of wealth at work since the 1980s (Piketty, 2014). It uses small area data from the 2001 and 2011 UK Censuses and the ONS' Wealth and Assets Survey to move beyond the change of occupant approach to gentrification and to show the uneven ethnic distribution of three facets of current English gentrifications: (1) asset accumulation, either through purchase for occupation or as a buy-to-let investment (Paccoud 2015), (2) displacement from central city locations and (3) savings erosion in the private rental sector. Through these, gentrification feeds into the diverging long-term trajectories of ethnic group housing wealth accumulation: the groups which were able to enter owner occupation early and in the right areas are now able to draw on its asset-accumulation function, while the others are vulnerable to displacement and the vagaries of the private rental sector. These findings highlight the stability of wealth accumulation trajectories in a geography where migration-led population change and the regulatory and public policy-enabled mutations of gentrification produce the appearance of a diversity of gentrifiers.
Ruth Glass: Gentrification Nexus?
Samuel Barton (University College London, UK)
Arguably the centre point of gentrification literature ought to be its coining in 1964 by Ruth Glass in London Aspects of Change. Although a counter argument might identify the next academic article published almost ten years later (Hamnett 1973). In this paper I will argue Glass' essay represents an approach to the city that has been lacking from the subsequent literature on gentrification. In her essay Glass paints an intensely complex picture of London, "too vast, too complex, too contrary and too moody to become entirely familiar" (1964:xiii). It is a description of London that drips with detail and takes on different scales of observation that she allows to contradict one another, as they inevitably must. Whilst she seems to have been an avowed quantitative researcher, her writing tended towards the ethnographic. Through a close reading of Glass I will argue for a messier epistemology in the way we consider processes of change in the city. Gentrification scholars have made demands for an account of specificity, complexity, even chaos, before (Rose 1984) and in particular Bondi (1991) relating this methodological critique to feminist geographies. However in the interest of nexus thinking I'd like to continue to press the point. I will conclude my paper by drawing on my experience as an ethnographer of a gentrifying neighbourhood and suggest that the genealogy of gentrification (and academy as a whole) has side-lined Glass, and side-lined a valuably messy way of looking at urban change.
Urban tourism: new questions for gentrification research
Agustín Cócola Gant (University of Lisbon, Portugal)
The growth of urban tourism has intensified the middle class colonisation of city centres in both the North and the South and is leading to new processes of displacement. However, gentrification research has overlooked the role that tourism plays in processes of production and consumption of urban spaces. The paper will argue that tourism accelerates the pressure of gentrification-induced displacement and that an understanding of the links between tourism and gentrification are crucial for gentrification research. The paper will suggest the relevance of a new research agenda based on the following themes. First, that both the North and the South are experiencing an increased conversion of housing into accommodation for visitors, especially after the spread of short term rentals and portals such as Airbnb. This phenomenon is leading to both direct and exclusionary displacement. Second, that tourism encourages commercial gentrification while neighbourhoods become spaces dominated by transient consumers. We need a better understanding of how such mutations involve processes of place-based displacement and to explore whether it provokes a progressive out-migration from the place. Third, it is important to distinguish the impacts that tourism has in the South and the North as it affects the way in which gentrification takes place. As the South has become a leisure-oriented space for more advanced economies, gentrification is increasingly related to state-led investment which caters to the needs of affluent visitors. Finally, the role of lifestyle migrants is central to understanding how gentrification works in the South, both as pioneer gentrifiers in historic cities and as consumers of authentic experiences in processes such as slum tourism.