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Gendered Geographies of Gentrification

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GGG (Gendered Geographies of Gentrification)

Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2018-02-28

This study examines and compares the mutual reconstruction of space and gender in gentrifying neighborhoods in Amsterdam and Istanbul.It approaches gentrification and displacement as the social and spatial manifestation of the crisis of social reproduction as coined by Nancy Fraser. It focuses on the lived experiences of low-income women regarding gentrification and displacement and analyzes the material as well affective aspects of social reproductive work required to survive in gentrifying neighborhoods. The research uses a comparative qualitative methodology and combines different data collection methods (in-depth interviews, document analysis, participant observations).
The overall aim of this research is to shed comparative light on the mutual reconstruction of space and gender in gentrifying areas. To realize this aim, the study has two research objectives:1) To develop a comprehensive framework to analyze the reconstruction of space and gender in gentrifying neighborhoods; 2) To analyze and compare gendered geographies of gentrification to shed light on contextually dependent as well as universal elements of gender constitution and gentrification.
This study engages with both the theory and practice of gentrification. It contributes not only to gentrification literature with its comparative and feminist approach but also to the feminist political project to contest gendered inequalities involved in gentrification.
The project was realized in five phases. In Phase 1, a career development plan was prepared. The fellow had introductory meetings with scholars at the Department of Geography at Leicester. In this phase, the fellow engaged in the literature review and case study design. She started writing the paper entitled ‘Rethinking the Gender- Gentrification Nexus’ which was published in the edited volume called Handbook of Gentrification Studies by Lees and Phillips (2018). The researcher started writing the second paper on social reproduction and gentrification nexus. The researcher co-organized and presented at the early career researchers’ workshop entitled “Everyday politics of social reproduction and place-making” at the Geography Department of the University of Leicester. Phase 2 engaged in a contextualized study of gender, gentrification and displacement in two cities, Amsterdam and Istanbul. The researcher reviewed the relevant policy documents, academic papers regarding urban policy, gentrification and displacement in Amsterdam and Istanbul and made a review about gender regimes/policies in relation to urban policy. During Phase 3, the fellow conducted the case studies. Before starting each fieldwork, she completed the preparation of the interview questions, planning participatory observations, finding contacts to recruit participants. She conducted 50 interviews in total and did participant observations at various places and organizations in both cities. The researcher realized secondments in Amsterdam and Istanbul as the part of her ‘comparative urbanist’ training. After completing each fieldwork, she worked on the data analysis through thematic coding and analysis. She wrote her third paper based on the Istanbul case study. Phase 4 engaged in comparative analysis. The fellow compared the findings of the two case studies; and worked on theory generation based on the results. She started drafting the comparative article on gendered geographies of gentrification in Istanbul and Amsterdam. In Phase 5, the fellow disseminated the research results. She worked to complete the submission/revision of the prepared academic papers to send them to peer review journals for publication. The fellow organized individual and collective meetings with professional and neighborhood-based organizations, grassroots groups, researchers and urbanists, journalists in both cities to talk about the research and its findings.

The main results of the project were 1) the development of a theoretical and methodological framework on how to study gender and gentrification nexus using social reproduction theory: The study drew a fresh framework to discuss the link between social reproduction and gentrification approaching gentrification as a part and parcel of the contemporary crisis of social reproduction and ecological crisis;
2) analysis and comparison of gendered geographies of gentrification: Conducting fieldwork in Amsterdam and Istanbul, the project shed lights on contextually dependent as well as universal elements of gender constitution and gentrification in different geographies of gentrification. It showed how urban renewal projects produced the social space for different gender relations and norms in both cities. While the gendered inequalities and dispossessions resulting from gentrification were heavier in Istanbul case, in both cases, low-income women shouldered the material and emotional burdens of pursing social reproduction of their households and communities in their gentrifying neighborhoods.
Academic impacts of the project:
1) The project has had a significant impact on the career of the researcher. She developed her theoretical and methodological skills, worked on her publication track, improved her networks and gained experience in managing an EU research project. These, all in all, increased her employability; 2) The research has made four significant contributions and improved the state-of-the-art in the literature. First, the study bridged the urban and feminist studies and thereby enriched our understanding of gender inequalities involved in the production of space. Second, it developed a theoretical framework to study gender and gentrification nexus embracing social reproduction theory. Third, it contributed to the literature with its comparative perspective on the gender-gentrification nexus. Fourth, embracing feminist ethnography the study could reveal the gendered nature, scope and impacts of displacement and gentrification; 3) The project enhanced academic networks, collaboration and knowledge transfer. Secondments, organized conference sessions, participation into the seminars, invited talks etc. enabled networking and resulted in collaboration among networked scholars. The research outputs generated at every research phase were presented to and discussed with academic scholars in the Department of Geography at Leicester University, as well as in Amsterdam and Istanbul and beyond. The resulting network is likely to result in more collaboration among networked scholars beyond the project duration.
The societal impacts of the project:
The project results made visible the gendered inequalities involved in gentrification processes in different cities. Disseminating the research results to non-academic groups such as neighborhood-based and professional organizations, feminist and/or grassroots groups and media, the fellow 1) put gendered dispossession and inequalities and their production through gentrification under the spotlights and helped raise public and political awareness; 2) initiated discussions in several meetings about the policy alternatives in order to correct policies that are generating gendered and spatial inequalities; 3) provided the scientific analysis of gendered dispossessions and inequalities as an input for the struggles of anti-gentrification and gender activists.
Picture of Tarlabasi Renewal Billboard, Istanbul
Picture of Javastraat, Amsterdam