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That’s the Word for It: Gentrification


Gentrification is a controversial term when it comes to urban planning and has an unpleasant connotation.  When more well-off people move into poorer areas, the existing demographic is upturned and development occurs, mostly at the expense of the people who live there already. So here, development is one-sided and even hypocritical. The word gentrification comes from the Old French word genterise, which has to do with ‘people of gentle birth’.

Some examples of the word gentrification in literature:

“There is a gentrification that is happening to cities, and there is a gentrification that is happening to the emotions too, with a similarly homogenising, whitening, deadening effect. Amidst the glossiness, of late capitalism, we are fed the notion that all difficult feeling – depression, anxiety, loneliness, rage – are simply a consequence of unsettled chemistry, a problem to be fixed, rather than a response to structural injustice or, on the other hand, to the native texture of embodiment, of doing time, as David Wojnarowicz memorably put it, in a rented body, with all the attendant grief and frustration that entails.”
― Olivia Laing, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

“It is ironic, in the manner of a dystopian nightmare, that an advanced capitalist empire which is founded on genocide and slavery, which still functions as the global police, which has an armed population, which routinely violates international human rights, which has the largest known military industrial complex in the world, which is the world’s largest producer of pornography, has also produced a saccharine ideology in which ‘positive thinking’ functions as a form of psychological gentrification. And it is not insignificant that the neoliberal lie that one is 110% responsible for one’s life—first powerfully encapsulated by the ‘alternative’ conservative thinker Louise Hay, and more recently echoed by Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now (1997/2005)—is directed at women. Today, gendered victim-blaming has become a form of upwardly mobile common sense ‘wisdom’. Now victim blaming is expressed by voices that sound soothing, wise, calm, above all, loving.”
― Abigail Bray, Misogyny Re-Loaded

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