RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2018

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208 The Material Logics of Territorial Stigmatisation: From Urban Devaluation to Urban Revaluation? (1)
Affiliation Urban Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Neil Gray (University College Dublin, Ireland)
Hamish Kallin (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
Chair(s) Neil Gray (University College Dublin, Ireland)
Timetable Thursday 30 August 2018, Session 3 (14:40 - 16:20)
Room Glamorgan Building - Council Chamber
Session abstract The concept of ‘territorial stigmatisation’ (Wacquant, 2007, 2008) informs a growing body of critical urban research, exploring its crucial links with gentrification (Gray and Mooney, 2011; Wacquant and Slater 2014; Kallin and Slater, 2014; Kirkness and Tijé-Dra, 2017). The logic of territorial stigmatisation can be viewed as both social and spatial, either via defamatory stereotyping of local residents or the construction of a ‘blemish of place’ (Wacquant, 2007), with each functioning to legitimise state-led, market-based landscape transformation. This session builds on previous work exploring the brute fact of devaluation as a necessary if not sufficient condition for the accumulation of capital (Marx, Luxemburg, 2003; Harvey, 1982; Smith, 1996), and in particular how territorial stigmatisation (along with correlate discourses of blight and obsolescence) functions as a neoliberal alibi for urban revaluation. The papers add to this literature by providing a deepened political economy of territorial stigma from a variety of contexts, underscoring its material catalytic role in urban devaluation/revaluation strategies, and the ensuing production of embodied socio-spatial inequalities.
Linked Sessions The Material Logics of Territorial Stigmatisation: From Urban Devaluation to Urban Revaluation? (2)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: ac2018@rgs.org
Centering territorial stigma in the social housing system: from denigration to restructuring in Sydney
Alistair Sissons (University of Sydney, Australia)
The denigration of social housing is a popular theme in research on territorial stigmatisation. The literature has illuminated the intense stigmatisation of estates and tenants, and its function as a technology of control and as a strategy of legitimating demolition or neglect. Building upon this literature, this paper examines the stigmatisation of particular estates and the discrediting of public housing as tenure class in the city of Sydney. This is achieved through the interplay of discourse (journalistic, scientific, political and bureaucratic), statistical analyses and government housing policies, which represent social housing as a shameful tenancy of last resort and estates as isolated and criminogenic concentrations of poverty. In the context of Sydney’s hyper-expensive housing market, estates are rendered as unbefitting their coveted real estate, thereby legitimating a program of estate redevelopment that involves the demolition of public housing for the construction of ‘socially mixed’ neighbourhoods (that is, more private housing and replacement-levels of social housing). Furthermore, these modes of representation serve to discredit the public housing system itself and shepherd in a program of stock transfer from the public housing system to Community Housing Providers which are allegedly more professional and efficient, in part due to their ability to access to finance through the securitisation of rental income streams. In unpacking the production of these representations, the stigmatisation of housing estates is shown to play a central role in the social housing system, and in the wider housing system and the processes of capital accumulation that occur within it.
High Rise as Visual Cue of Stigma: Can Demolition Transform the Reputation of High Rise Estates
Carolyn Gibbeson (Sheffield Hallam University, UK)
Aimee Ambrose (Sheffield Hallam University, UK)
Landscapes and places are said to retain a sense of guilt (Sneikers and Reijnders, 2011) or a stigma attached to the people who lived there or their past use (Moon et al. 2015). High rise housing estates have received significant attention in academic literature as stigmatised places and troubled histories (Crookes, 2017; Hastings and Dean, 2004; Kirkness and Tijé-Dra, 2017; Wacquant, 2008) and this has been thrown in to sharp relief in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster. In the decades since the mass construction of high rise housing by local authorities many of these sites have started to be renovated or demolished as part of new urban regeneration programmes. Whilst there have been many histories of high rise housing, there has been limited attention given to what happens to the stigma of these sites over time and following these regeneration or demolition programmes. This paper will explore Norfolk Park in Sheffield, UK through its trajectory from council estate to demolition and renewal through redevelopment. It uses two studies, one conducted in 2004 when the estate was still standing but threatened with demolition, and one in 2017 after the estate had been demolished and new housing developments constructed to ask whether the long standing stigma and reputation associated with the original Norfolk Park estate remains or whether the new development has "cleansed" the area of this.
State Failure, Devalorisation, and the Rent Gap that never goes away…
Hamish Kallin (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
Central to the idea of the rent gap is the devalorisation of land as a necessary preface to its eventual revalorisation. A resurgence of interest in the rent gap over recent years has sought to add depth of agency to this process, showing the multiple ways in which the fall in values is not a natural phenomenon, but one aided by state policy and intentional strategies of disinvestment, underpinned by unfolding forms of class struggle (Kallin, 2017; Krijnen, 2018; Slater, 2017). The Waterfront Edinburgh project is a striking example of how the vested interests of real estate speculation can be found at both ends of this ‘revalorization’ curve. A decade of stalled regeneration has sown the seeds for a sudden mushrooming of speculative building (largely on sites that have been held intentionally empty since the financial crisis). In this sense, speculative interest acts not only as the scavenger that comes to feast on the carcass of failed planning, but as the guards who keep the carcass rotting long enough to make it ripe. ‘Revalorisation’ arrives as savour to resuscitate a discarded plan, and bring some life back into an area that has been hit by the blight of unused plots for decades. The link between devalorisation and revalorisation here is far from coincidental or inevitable: the failure of the state’s planning initiative has opened the door for a new round of profiteering. Through an analysis of this process, I will show how the state and capital have worked hand in hand to deny alternative forms of community-led revalorisation and stretch the rent gap out over time.
Beavers of the Banlieues: Alternative narratives of postwar affordable housing production in France
Magda Maaoui (Columbia University, USA)
This paper studies how the Castors cooperative housing construction movement participated in the contestation from below of stigmas attached to the French banlieues. The Beavers, or "Compagnie des Castors", were self builders who structured a large cooperative movement of social housing construction that unfolded during the Reconstruction era post-1945 in France, as a response to the lack of housing provision by the State. The way they largely contributed to the production of suburban residential landscapes casts a new light on how French metropolitan areas' peripheries are usually inscribed in a long history of peripheralization and stigmatisation that rests on the intertwining of policymaking and the production of penalizing spaces (Dikeç, 2007). This is a counter narrative to the official story about postwar affordable housing provision in French cities.

In order to answer this, I first embed these alternative narratives on postwar housing provision in the larger socio-economic, demographic, and policy contexts that unfold from 1945 to the late 1970s. I then present the intertwining of different agents and systems which try to provide solutions to the postwar crisis: namely, the Beavers and the State, as they overlap, collaborate and end up parting. This alternative narrative matters because it explores the way in which the banlieues were simultaneously devalued by the State and revalued by agents acting from below, through this cooperative initiative. Eventually, state technologies deployed ended up winning this battle, producing long-term stigma and socio-spatial inequalities in the banlieues.