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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.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6193-8559
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
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: Uppsala University, 2017. , p. 153
Series
Geographica, ISSN 0431-2023 ; 14
Keywords [en]
gentrification; displacement; creative labor; cultural labor; social movements; resistance; Milan; Brooklyn
National Category
Social and Economic Geography
Research subject
Urban studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-18654ISBN: 978-91-506-2631-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mau-18654DiVA, id: diva2:1476645
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2020-10-19 Created: 2020-10-15 Last updated: 2024-02-23Bibliographically approved
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.
2017 (English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Social and Economic Geography
Research subject
Urban studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-18748 (URN)
Projects
Doctoral Thesis: Pushing borders. Cultural workers in the restructuring of post-industrial cities
Available from: 2020-10-21 Created: 2020-10-21 Last updated: 2024-01-09Bibliographically approved
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
2015 (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 article is a contribution to reinforcing our understanding of gentrificationand displacement as neighborhood expressions of inequality. It explores the experiencesof gentrification of lower-income, long-time residents in the gentrifying neighborhood ofBushwick, Brooklyn, New York City. The focus is on components of displacement beyondthe traditional emphasis on outmigration. In particular, the article pinpoints the emotional,affective, psychological reactions of long-time residents triggered through the encounterwith newcomers. While the entry point is the exploration of emotions and affects, thearticle argues that these feelings are outcomes of material socio-economic inequalitiesand, in particular, their powerfully racialized historical foundations, as embodied in thecontemporary encounter of long-time residents with newcomers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Wiley & Sons, 2015
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-17281 (URN)10.1111/1468-2427.12340 (DOI)
Available from: 2020-05-14 Created: 2020-05-14 Last updated: 2020-10-28Bibliographically 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 insurgentpolitical activity. The specific context for the study is the urban cultural movement ofMacao, in Milan. Macao is an urban social movement that aims to challenge neoliberalcultural production and neoliberal urban politics through alternative cultural productionmodels. The overarching argument is that Macao pursues its subjectification processthrough aesthetic tactics: the process of the formation of a political subject passes througharts and creative expressions to impact and reconfigure the sensible domain. This collectivesubject is created by: first, reappropriating urban spaces; second, enacting alternativepractices of cultural production; and third, guerrilla branding tactics. Ultimately, thepaper explores the potential of alliances between urban struggles and struggles overcommodification and exploitation of culture.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2015
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-17282 (URN)10.1068/a140096p (DOI)
Available from: 2020-05-14 Created: 2020-05-14 Last updated: 2020-10-28Bibliographically approved

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