The Global Urbanist

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Towards an emerging geography of gentrification in the Global South

Date: -

Organiser: Loretta Lees, Hyun Bang Shin, Ernesto López, Hilda Herzer

Location: Santiago

Topical area: Integrated planning, Land, Housing, New cities and special projects, Property, rights and evictions, Poverty and inequality, Social conflict, Architecture and urban design


Seminar series funded by the Urban Studies Foundation and the Urban Studies Journal Seminar Series Competition

Professor Loretta Lees (Department of Geography, King’s College London)
Dr. Hyun Bang Shin (Department of Geography and Environment, London School of Economics)
Dr. Ernesto López (Department of Urban Planning, University of Chile, Chile)
Dr. Hilda Herzer (Department of Sociology, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina)

London, March 23-24, 2012 (for participants from Asia and Africa)
Santiago, April 26-27, 2012 (for participants from Central and South America)

The overall aim of this seminar series is to broaden our understanding of gentrification drawing conceptually on the ‘new’ literature on comparative urbanism and policy mobilities and practically on the knowledge of gentrification researchers working on/in the Global South.

We want to avoid the assumption that gentrification is simply ‘expanding’ towards the global periphery, as if it is an imported new phenomenon that builds upon emerging real estate markets. It may be possible to hypothesise that gentrification has been taking place in various guises in different parts of the Global South since the 1960s. It may be possible that only the systematic and social scientific observation of these processes is something new, but not the actual phenomena it/themselves. In this regards, the experiences in the Global South deserve careful attention and revised conceptualization beyond the usually accepted definitions of gentrification that are confined to the Global North. As Loretta Lees points out in her recent Progress in Human Geography paper:

  • There is disconnection between gentrification literature and other literature that addresses urban processes in the global South (e.g. slums literature).
  • There is an urgent need to question the meaning of gentrification and to evaluate its “usefulness and applicability…as a conceptual frame for processes in the Global South”.
  • It is necessary to recognise the politics of the term gentrification, and the consequences of its replacement by more indigenous expressions.
  • It is imperative for researchers to learn “through different (non Anglo-American) urban theory cultures of the city”.

In response to this we bring together those researching gentrification in the Global South to create a dialogue and hence challenge theoretical and epistemological perspectives on gentrification that have been produced out of the experiences of the Global North and have become hegemonic in the literature on gentrification.

Our proposal is that the seminar participants take an historical perspective when focusing on gentrification in the Global South, that they look at sweat equity (pioneer) gentrification but also relevant state-led policies of social cleansing in central cities, and displacement of the poor and minorities as class projects.

Some of the more specific questions we hope participants will consider are:

  • How does a gentrification blueprint account for and anticipate the geographical and historical specificity of places?
  • What is the complex geographical contingency to gentrification?
  • How do gentrification policies emerge in different countries – is it by repetition (copying), borrowing (aspects that suit) or is it reinvented (for a different context)? Is it indigenous?
  • Is gentrification in these regions a new phenomenon or can it be regarded as part of a historical continuity of urban segregation and class-led urban reconfiguration?

Furthermore, we ask participating researchers to question how gentrification theory as an analytical lens reconciles with those issues that are frequently visited in the urban development literature that examines cities in the Global South. These issues may include (but are not limited to):

  • Land as asset/s
  • Complexity of formal/informal property rights
  • Diverse formal/informal tenure distribution
  • Housing and land speculation
  • Ethnic division and social segregation
  • Infrastructure development and development-induced displacement
  • Creation of exclusionary spaces for urban elites and the new rich
  • Colonial legacies embedded in urban fabric
  • State-led developmentalism and the role of public policies
  • Planning regulations as state instruments.

The following have been invited and agreed to present (see below) but we would like to open the invitation now more widely to others researching in this field, either to present papers and/or attend the workshops.

DAY 1: Invited Speakers:
Tou Chuang Chang (Singapore)
Sue-Ching Jou (Taiwan)
Yoshihiro Fujitsuka (Japan)
Soohyun Kim (South Korea)
Adrienne La Grange (Hong Kong)
Urmi Sengupta (India)
Arif Hasan (Pakistan)
Nhamo Smasuwo (South Africa)
Invited discussants: tbc

DAY 2: Open invitation to other speakers

DAY 1: Invited Speakers:
Victor Delgadillo (Mexico)
Christopher Gaffney (Brazil)
Paulo Sandroni (Brazil)
Neil Turnbull and Elke Schlack (Chile)
María Carla Rodríguez (Argentina)
Michael Janoschka (Spain)
Invited discussants: tbc

DAY 2: Open invitation to other speakers


There is a nominal fee of £20 a day for the waged and £10 a day for the non-waged (for London) and £10 a day for the waged and £5 a day for the non-waged (for Santiago).

How to attend:

For those who would like to present a paper in Day 2 of either the London or Santiago workshop please submit a title and abstract of the proposed paper to by the Monday 12th December 2011.

Please note due to space restrictions for the workshops we will have to be selective and cannot guarantee that your paper will be included.

For those who would like to attend but not present please email to that effect by the Monday 12th December 2011.

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