Mathieu van Criekingen
Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) / ULB Local Coordinator and Lecturer
Urban Economic Geography, Urban Analysis II
Keywords: gentrification (processes, policies, and resistance to), neoliberal capitalism and the city, life in working-class neighbourhoods
Staying put in the revalorised (inner) city: Urban revalorisation processes are putting strong pressure on multiple categories of land users that cannot afford rising ground rents while simultaneously highly praising central urban locations for social reproduction or economic viability (low-income inhabitants, space-consuming activities, low-margin businesses,…). There’s a need here for new researches on the actual ways and strategies through which those populations or activities at risk of displacement strive to ‘stay put’ in central urban locations, that is, how they resist change. Case studies could be designed here with a focus on specific population groups, economic activities or selected neighbourhoods ‘under pressure’ – in different urban contexts.
Alternatives: Practices, initiatives, projects or experiments of very diverse kinds departing from the entrepreneurial mainstream – and/or contesting it – are flourishing nowadays in cities. Thinks f.i. of community land trusts, community planning experiences, local currencies or exchange systems, free public transport, community-supported agriculture, housing cooperatives, squatting, participatory budgeting, etc. Yet, there is still a lack of critical assessments of the actual nature of these existing policy models or practices that allegedly embody an ‘alternative’ character vis-à-vis the entrepreneurial mainstream. I invite therefore students to engage in researching how these ‘alternative’ experiments actually confront, contest, circumvent – or not so much – neoliberally-minded ways of producing and running cities, based on close observation of situated experiments.
Retail gentrification: The emergence of new retail landscapes is one of the recurrent ingredients of gentrification processes – think of trendy cafés, fashion or design boutiques, organic food markets, etc. However, this aspect of neighbourhood change has been chronically under-researched in gentrification literature, although new investment in retail activities can play a crucial role in accelerating gentrification processes or supporting gentrification policies. Researches should be developed here around specific retail types and/or selected neighbourhoods in order to understand the social production of those new retail landscapes in different urban contexts, as well as their consequences for pre-existing retail structures and incumbent populations.
Department of Human Geography
Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)
Av. F.D. Roosevelt, 50 – CP130/03
1050 Brussels, Belgium