Gentrification is Inevitable – and other lies

Leslie Kern

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  • Verso Books
  • 2022
  • ISBN 9781839767548
  • 256 pages
  • Hardcover with dust jacket
  • 21.5 × 14.5 × 2 cm

How Gentrification is killing our cities, and what we can do about it

What does gentrification look like? Can we even agree that it is a process that replaces one community with another? It is a question of class? Or of economic opportunity? Who does it affect the most? Is there any way to combat it? Leslie Kern, author of the best selling Feminist City, travels from Toronto, New York, London, Paris and San Francisco and scrutinises the myth and lies that surround this most urgent urban crisis of our times.

First observed in 1950s London, and theorised by leading thinkers such as Ruth Glass, Jane Jacobs and Sharon Zukin, this devastating process of displacement now can be found in every city and most neighbourhoods. Beyond the Yoga studio, farmer’s market and tattoo parlour, gentrification is more than a metaphor, but impacts the most vulnerable communities. Kern proposes an intersectional way at looking at the crisis that seek to reveal the violence based on class, race, gender and sexuality. She argues that gentrification is not natural That it can not be understood in economics terms, or by class. That it is not a question of taste. That it can only be measured only by the physical displacement of certain people. Rather, she argues, it is an continuation of the setter colonial project that removed natives from their land. And it can be seen today is rising rents and evictions, transformed retail areas, increased policing and broken communities.

But if gentrification is not inevitable, what can we do to stop the tide? In response, Kern proposes a genuinely decolonial, feminist, queer, anti-gentrification. One that demands the right to the city for everyone and the return of land and reparations for those who have been displaced.

Praise:

“A sweeping and fluid new book on gentrification. Kern expertly weaves theory, concepts, and up-to-date debates about gentrification together, making it accessible not only to urban scholars but to general readers too. A superb book I would have liked to have written but didn’t. A must-read for anyone interested in gentrification.” – Loretta Lees, Director of the Initiative on Cities, Boston University, USA

“Confronts gentrification with a multidimensional and intersectional critique, revealing the process of urban ‚improvement‘ as an unending campaign of social exclusion and a biting metaphor for making money. She combines her own experience as a city dweller with extensive social research to provide both a call for creative collective action and a good read.” – Sharon Zukin, author of Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places

“From the forced removal of Indigenous people to the redlining of Black neighbourhoods, from the disenfranchisement of women through suburbanization to the expulsion of the LGBTQ+ community, Kern’s writing is a rallying cry for the decolonization of placemaking and a blueprint for an urbanism rooted in social justice and fairness.” – Christine Murray, editor-in-chief of The Developer and director of the Festival of Place

“Kern is a wonderful writer, and this compelling, important, and highly original intervention in the gentrification debates is a staggering tour de force. At once a devastating critique of the limitations of established perspectives on gentrification and a convincing plea for an intersectional approach, this book offers sparklingly clear analysis and numerous possibilities for political action. Anyone who reads it will never forget it” – Tom Slater, author of Shaking Up the City: Ignorance, Inequality, and the Urban Question

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