Posts Tagged ‘cities’


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source (title added)

Many cities in the United States went through a process of gentrification in the years leading up to the crash of 2007-08. But four of them stand out: Boston (61 percent), Seattle (55 percent), New York (46 percent), and San Francisco (42 percent).

Daniel Hartley provides a list of the cities that experienced the highest levels of gentrification (which he defines as the percentage of neighborhoods located in the central city of a metropolitan area that go from being in the bottom half of the distribution of home prices in the metropolitan area to the top half) between 2000 and 2007.

It comes as no surprise that gentrifying tracts saw bigger increases in home values, rents, incomes, education levels, and owner occupancy rates than low-price tracts that did not gentrify.


What we don’t know, and what Hartley’s study sheds little light on, is what happens to residents who are pushed out of neighborhoods by the process of gentrification.

What we do know is that gentrification is the model of development that was widely adopted in America’s cities during the 2000s.




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Know this!

Posted: 27 September 2013 in Uncategorized
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Richard Florida continues to peddle his story of knowledge workers, the creative class, and urban clustering (about which I have raised questions before, such as here and here).

But economic inequalities have become so glaring and obscene, even Florida has finally come to admit their existence:

The main threats to America’s growth model don’t come from other countries, but from domestic contradictions. The more talented people cluster, the greater the economic returns they produce. But as these clusters of highly educated people form and grow, they tend to push out the middle class, resulting in a ruthless sorting of people and places. As great as its potential may be, this new economic landscape is also notable for its widening fissures.

The cultural, political, and economic gulfs that separate advantaged and disadvantaged people and places go well beyond the wage gap. Knowledge workers benefit from living in neighborhoods with better schools, better amenities, and lower crime rates, while less advantaged groups are sometimes stuck in place, with limited prospects for climbing even one rung up the economic ladder, and insufficient resources to move out of stagnant areas.

And how creative can Florida get, now that he knows about all those poor people clustered into into depressed areas of cities? The best he can do is suggest that poor people get up and move to his “knowledge centers,” where their chances for moving up the ladder will be improved.

Here’s a not particularly creative alternative idea: end poverty!


The protests and occupations in Istanbul and other cities in Turkey began with but have now expanded far beyond the initial gathering in Taksim Gezi Park.

A Turkish colleague has been closely following these events and offers some useful links and insights:

“Everywhere is Taksim, Resistance Everywhere”

“The Right to the City Movement and the Turkish Summer”

Gezi Park Occupation (liveblog)

Lara Fresko’s twitter account

In the second article, there are also useful links to find out about the kinds of demolishings, displacements, and dispossessions caused by the top-down urban transformation projects forcefully implemented since the mid-2000s. There is, for instance, a link to the documentary Ecumenopolis, which I thought was very good. You can also watch the trailer of AKP’s fantasy of a de-pedestrianized and concretized Taksim Square, where Gezi Park, the setting of the events, is located—which is being built as we protest. Amazing how the video spends more time on the parallel universe of underground highways than that of the overground plan.

Some friends have been unhappy about the ways in which the western media have been painting the protests/occupation in terms of the secular vs. religious antagonism. I think the second essay is good in terms of questioning that reductive narrative. Gezi Park has displayed a heterotopic character—bringing diverse groups of anarchist-activists, urban grassroots organizations (e.g., Taksim Platform, which has been organizing against the transformation of the Gezi Park is a main one, itself composed of a number of movements and associations), neighborhood associations, various socialist groups and platforms, football fan groups, LGBT groups, artists, precarious service/professional class, some trade unions, university and high school students, professionals like academics, doctors, lawyers, city planners, some parliamentary members, and just ordinary citizens, some of which have come out to protest under such conditions of police violence for the first time in their lives. What brings these groups into a chain of equivalence is that they are positioned against the top down and increasingly authoritarian neoliberal governance of the AKP, or perhaps even more narrowly, the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

One might argue that, on 1 June, this diverse character of the movement changed, with the opposition Republican People’s Party’s attempt to interpellate new protestors (its potential constituency, which has been infuriated with what they articulate as an increasing threat to their lifestyles from the AKP and RTE). It is also a fact that the composition of the park changes temporally, from day to day, even during the day (which is itself a dimension of heterotopia?), yet, I can certainly say, as of yet, the protests remain nontotalizable: there is no unified leadership, no political group steering the agenda of the protestors, no party having appropriated the movement.

I think the other, and what I find to be more disconcerting. misreading of the protests is repeatedly given by the prime mister RTE himself—a sign that he is not able to read, or rather vehemently resists reading, the changing field of social forces and conflicts. He is stuck in reading the main antagonism, or rather the main antagonizer, in Turkey (and the main discontent towards “his party”) in terms of the reactionary and elitist assault of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) against the empowerment of the “people,” that is, the “conservative majority,” once marginalized and victimized by the authoritarian policies of the Republican state. In repeating this outdated framing (outdated not because Islamophobia, or Islamoparanoi, is no longer relevant in the conduct of part of CHP’s constituency, no, but because speaking from a position of victimhood no longer resonates), he in a way acts out his own unending resentment and vengeance (and perhaps self-hatred in a way): that despite what he has done, he is still not recognized and respected (thus, he delegitimizes the protestors as pathetic, ungrateful, or illegal extremists). In this sense, re-configuring Taksim, in fact, the main spatial artery that runs from Dolmabahce Palace, Besiktas to Harbiye, is as much a symbolic war over historical memory, of re-inscribing in space a new state (I want to say imperial state, since I see AKP’s reclaiming of the “neo-Ottoman heritage” as an important ideological-affective element) on the demolished concrete of the old Republic as a war over class.

This latter needs to be unpacked further, but at the very least I can say RTE, wrapped in a dream of making Turkey an exceptional and grandiose economic power, refuses to understand that the “people” more and more see him as standing for the needs of the property and capital-commanding elite (in this sense it is telling that his first televised response to the protestors came when he was making the opening speech for the Congress of the Union of Exporters, celebrating Turkey’s growing competitiveness and new leadership in the global regime of neoliberal growth and development). He refuses to understand that his “imperial” neoliberal project of rebuilding Turkey as a regional engine of “civilization” and “economic progress” has brought about in the last 8 years or so new forms of economic and cultural exclusion and new forms of social antagonism over class.

There is much more to be said about violence, secularism, dangers, and potentialities of this event—but I leave this message here. . .

Protest of the day

Posted: 29 May 2013 in Uncategorized
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Demonstrators confronted police and bulldozers in Taksim Gezi Park [ht: ym], one of the only remaining green spots in downtown Istanbul, which is reportedly under the risk of the construction of a shopping mall.


Special mention



Poverty has become widespread across the United States in recent years. As it turns out, the concentration of poverty has also been increasing.

A new study by the Cleveland Fed shows that

Over the course of the last decade, the poverty rate in the United States rose from 11.3 percent to 15.0 percent. From a geographic perspective, the increase has been widespread, as 49 out of the 50 states have seen a rise in poverty rates from 1999 to 2011. Clearly, this rise in poverty is linked closely to economic conditions, with many families and individuals seeing declining incomes during the Great Recession. The manufacturing states of the Midwest saw particularly sharp increases in poverty rates over this time period. . .

While poverty tended to increase in all neighborhoods, this increase was most rapid in neighborhoods that already had a large share of poor residents. This increase in the concentration of poverty is a distinct cause for concern because the disadvantages to an individual from being poor are thought to be either muted or amplified depending on the poverty in their neighborhood. Neighborhoods with many poor residents typically have less access to job opportunities, face higher crime rates, and incur a range of other social problems.

These recent trends represent a dramatic reversal of what was happening the 1990s, when both the level and concentration of poverty were falling.

And things are probably even worse than the current data reveal:

It is important to note that the full effects of the Great Recession are likely not fully reflected in our data, as the end period of the data in our sample is averaged over the years 2006 through 2010. We expect that as the sample window shifts forward, estimates of neighborhood poverty rates will rise, and it is possible that the concentration of poverty will continue to rise.

Over the course of the Second Great Depression, the United States has become a country of widespread and increasingly concentrated poverty.


What is by most accounts the largest migration in human history is a product of the largest primary accumulation of capital in human history.

Ross Perlin [ht: sm] reviews Taiwanese journalist Hsiao-Hung Pai’s new book, Scattered Sand: The Story of China’s Rural Migrants:

China’s migrant workers, desperate to escape these conditions [in poor rural areas], are traveling in precisely the opposite direction. Over the past three decades, some 200 million of them have left home to find work, two thirds going beyond their home provinces and millions overseas undertaking what is justifiably called the largest migration in human history. As Taiwanese journalist Hsiao-Hung Pai persuasively demonstrates in Scattered Sand, many members of this “new mobile proletariat,” despite 80-hour work weeks and backbreaking labor, are becoming virtual untouchables, caught between a blighted countryside and hostile, unattainable cities. Despite powering the country’s economic growth, they receive a pittance of the proceeds. The number of “mass incidents,” many the work of migrants, grows by the year. The “floating population” (liudong renkou in Chinese) is the specter haunting China.

Lixin Fan’s film, The Last Train Home, traces the reverse migration, the annual journey home of some 130 million workers for Chinese new year.

It looks like neoclassical economist Paul Romer may have finally gotten what he wants—in this case, in Honduras [ht: mfa]:

Investors can begin construction in six months on three privately run cities in Honduras that will have their own police, laws, government and tax systems now that the government has signed a memorandum of agreement approving the project.

An international group of investors and government representatives signed the memorandum Tuesday for the project that some say will bring badly needed economic growth to this small Central American country and that at least one detractor describes as “a catastrophe.”

We all know that gated communities and large-scale private developments, in which the world’s top 1 percent live and play, represent one step in the direction of neoclassical development. Entire cities—”model cities,” in the neoliberal lexicon—with their own judiciary, laws, governments, and police forces, together with the ability to sign international agreements on trade and investment and set their own immigration policy, represent a full embrace of Romer’s neoclassical colonialism.