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Pushing borders: Cultural workers in the restructuring of post-industrial cities
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social and Economic Geography.
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Description
Abstract [en]

This research explores the agency and positioning of cultural workers in the restructuring of contemporary cities. This positioning is ambiguous. Cultural workers often lead precarious professional lives, yet their significant symbolic and cultural capital is widely mobilised in the service of neoliberal urban restructuring, including ‘creative city’ flagship developments and gentrification. But cultural workers’ actual agency, their reactions to urban processes that exploit their presence, and their relations to other urban social groups, are poorly understood and hard to decipher. This thesis addresses these issues through three articles.

Paper I examines a process of artist-led gentrification ongoing in Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York. It shows that artists, gallerists and other members of the local art scene contribute to sustaining gentrification through their everyday practices and discourses. The gentrification frontier is constructed on an everyday level as a transitional space and time in the scene members’ lives. Gentrification is de-politicised by discursively underplaying its conflictual components of class and racial struggle. Forms of resistance to gentrification amongst scene members are found, but they appear to be sector-specific and exclusive. Finally, scene members tend to fail at establishing meaningful relationships with long-time residents.

Paper II brings the perspectives of long-time residents in Bushwick to the forefront. Examination of the emotional and affectual components of displacement reveals that these aspects are as important as material re-location to understanding displacement and gentrification. The encounter with newcomers’ bodies in neighbourhood spaces triggers a deep sense of displacement for long-time residents, evoking deep-rooted structural inequalities of which gentrification is one spatial expression.

Paper III examines the case of Macao, a collective mobilisation of cultural workers in Milan, Italy. There, cultural workers have mobilised against neoliberal urbanism, top-down gentrification, corruption, growing labour precarity and other regressive urban and social issues. The paper considers the distinctive resources, aesthetic tactics and inaugurative practices mobilised and enacted in the urban space by Macao and it argues that by deploying their cultural and symbolic capital, cultural workers can reframe the relations between bodies, space and time, and hence challenge power structures.

Cultural workers might not have the power to determine the structural boundaries and hierarchies that organize urban society, including their own positioning in it. Nonetheless, through their actions and discourses and subjectification processes, they can reinforce or challenge those borders. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of Social and Economic Geography , 2017. , p. 153
Series
Geographica, ISSN 0431-2023 ; 14
National Category
Social and Economic Geography
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-318548ISBN: 978-91-506-2631-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-318548DiVA, id: diva2:1084525
Public defence
2017-05-19, Hörsal 2, Ekonomikum, Kirkogårdsgatan 10, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-04-28 Created: 2017-03-25 Last updated: 2017-04-28
List of papers
1. Pushing forwards the gentrification frontier: How the art scene progresses gentrification in Bushwick, New York City
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Pushing forwards the gentrification frontier: How the art scene progresses gentrification in Bushwick, New York City
(English)In: Urban Studies, ISSN 0042-0980, E-ISSN 1360-063XArticle in journal (Refereed) Submitted
National Category
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-318546 (URN)
Available from: 2017-03-25 Created: 2017-03-25 Last updated: 2017-11-29
2. A sense of displacement: Long-time residents´ feelings of displacement in gentrifying Bushwick, New York
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A sense of displacement: Long-time residents´ feelings of displacement in gentrifying Bushwick, New York
2016 (English)In: International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, ISSN 0309-1317, E-ISSN 1468-2427, Vol. 39, no 6, p. 1191-1208Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper is a contribution to reinforcing our understanding of gentrification and displacement as neighborhood expressions of inequality. It explores the experiences of gentrification of lower-income, long-time residents in the gentrifying neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn, NYC. The focus is on components of displacement beyond the traditional emphasis on out-migration.  In particular, the paper pinpoints the emotional, affective, psychological reactions of long-time residents triggered through the encounter with newcomers. While the entry point is the exploration of emotions and affects, the paper argues that these feelings are outcomes of material socioeconomic inequalities and, in particular, their powerfully racialized historical foundations, as embodied in the contemporary encounter of long-time residents with newcomers. 

Keywords
displacement; gentrification; inequality; Bushwick; Brooklyn; New York City; long-time residents; emotions
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-295236 (URN)10.1111/1468-2427.12340 (DOI)000377265100008 ()
Available from: 2016-06-03 Created: 2016-06-03 Last updated: 2017-11-30Bibliographically approved
3. When cultural workers become an urban social movement. Political subjectification and alternative cultural production in the Macao movement, Milan
Open this publication in new window or tab >>When cultural workers become an urban social movement. Political subjectification and alternative cultural production in the Macao movement, Milan
2015 (English)In: Environment and planning A, ISSN 0308-518X, E-ISSN 1472-3409, Vol. 47, no 3, p. 643-659Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper explores the relationship between cultural production and insurgent political activity.  The specific context for the study is the urban cultural movement of Macao in Milan. Macao is an urban social movement that aims to challenge neoliberal cultural production and neoliberal urban politics through alternative cultural production models. The overarching argument is that Macao pursues its subjectification process through aesthetic tactics: the process of the formation of a political subject passes through arts and creative expressions to impact and re-configure the sensible domain. This collective subject is created: first, by re-appropriating urban spaces; second, by enacting alternative practices of cultural production; third, by guerrilla branding tactics. Ultimately, the paper explores the potential of alliances between urban struggles and struggles over commodification and exploitation of culture.  

Keywords
urban social movement, cultural production, subjectification, activism, aesthetics
National Category
Other Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-237044 (URN)10.1068/a140096p (DOI)000352365600010 ()
Available from: 2014-11-26 Created: 2014-11-26 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved

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