Professor Loretta Lees, University of Leicester
The process of gentrification has produced one of the largest literatures in urban studies, yet there have been few academic studies of resistance to gentrification; indeed detailed studies of anti-gentrification protests, struggles and activism seem to have been side-lined by attention to the causes and effects of gentrification. This is despite the fact that resistance to gentrification is growing internationally and remains a (if not the) key struggle with respect to social justice in cities worldwide. In this paper we address this gap head on, but we do so by avoiding the usual American suspects. American urban scholars have been at the forefront of writing about resistance to gentrification, especially in cities like San Francisco and NYC, but in a situation of planetary gentrification it is imperative that we learn from other examples. In this paper we focus on three European examples, Istanbul (a city spanning Europe and Asia where anti-gentrification resistance made international headlines in Gezi Park, but where there are many other examples of resistance in the city), London (a Northern European city where there has been very little writing on resistance to gentrification to date but where anti-gentrification activism is growing rapidly in the face of the total gentrification of the city), and Rome (a Southern European city where until recently gentrification was not a word uttered in relation to the city but where a long history of urban activism is now being played out in the face of new gentrification pressures). We discuss the 21st century practices of resistance in these three cities drawing on our empirical research as urban scholar-activists, and in so doing we demonstrate the importance of anti-gentrification resistance for urban struggles world-wide.
Loretta is an urban geographer who is world renowned for her research on gentrification. She is also an international expert on urban regeneration, global urbanism, urban policy, urban public space, urban communities, architecture, and urban social theory.