__Displacing subjectivities in gentrifying neighbourhoods: morality, mobility and place.
RGS-IBG Conference, Edinburgh 3rd – 5th July 2012
Sponsored by the Urban Geography Research Group
Organisers: Ben Coles (Leicester), Justin Spinney (East London)
Serving the interests of the middle classes and business elites, contemporary gentrification is thoroughly institutionalized in the urban renewal strategies of local and national governments (Smith 2011). Alongside housing redevelopment, Lees (2003) observes that measures to increase the ‘vitality’ of public space have been instrumental in re-trenching or otherwise (re)producing class-inflected urban landscapes. These ‘vital’ measures circumscribe a range of cultural activities and infrastructures including (for example) farmer’s and organic markets; sport and exercise venues; and bike hire and other mobility schemes. Contributing to discourses around the ‘healthy body’ or the ‘green body’, it is the promotion of these and similar forms of classed consumption that contributes to the production of morally-coded classed landscapes. Practically speaking, contemporary modes of gentrification not only seek to create space for more affluent users; they seek to create more affluent users through the provision and promotion of specific forms of conspicuous consumption. As Paton (2011) argues, although contemporary gentrification remains a process of displacement it is rarely one of physical removal. Rather, it is a process of acculturation that displaces and disconnects particular subjectivities and cultural practices and replaces them with more ‘desirable’ alternatives.
This session focuses on the interrelationships between urban space, and the displacement of cultural practices and subjectivities that are indicative of more nominal processes of gentrification. Responding to calls to bring critical perspectives back into gentrification research (Slater, 2006), papers are welcome that focus on the experiences of disenfranchised residents in relation to a range of cultural activities and infrastructures. Key themes and question include (but are not limited to):
• The effects of such initiatives on residents. To what extent is a process of class transformation/ displacement evident, and in what ways does this process disconnect residents psychologically, socially, economically and physically? Why might residents reject initiatives that on the face of it might benefit them?
• Exploration of the kinds of modalities and scales that such initiatives and activities operate at. Are feelings of displacement and disconnection engendered at discursive levels, through forms of governmentality or at the level of everyday practice?
• The stability and security of existing identities and communities, and ways in which these initiatives are resisted. What sense of ownership do residents have over these initiatives? What forms of collective action, alternative activities, and inappropriate use of facilities and spaces are mobilized? How and why do residents empower themselves in particular ways?
• The response to these processes in disparate global urban settings. How are tensions between the possible benefits of such initiatives and potential displacement and disconnection played out at the global, community and individual level?
Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be submitted by Monday January 16th 2012 to Justin Spinney (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Ben Coles (email@example.com).