T4.2: The politics of resilience & gentrification

In the politics of resilience and gentrification, the presentations focused on the use of urban resilience as a metaphor for framing their arguments. The predominant focus was around the social networks that were at risk or how more resilient urban environments would benefit social-ecological systems.

Urban resilience in this context was used as an indicator to judge gentrification and a guiding principle to measure positive cultural variability of urban environments. Gentrification due to the implementation of resilience strategies and its effects are common themes, seeking to bring to light the importance of a resilient social basis to the city.

The presentations within this topic session questioned the impact of current urban resilience policy in cities; that are incomplete and oversea the social importance in urban resilience. That pre-existing social networks need to be maintained and bolstered and that gentrification, due to over-technical resolution of resilience strategy, is leading to an erosion of fundamental societal systems in cities. A re-framing then of resilience of all the topics align with the conference reframing that resilience should seek to address the increasing social inequalities in cities. They all seek to re-address and give meaning to the vulnerable in society; that the ‘vulnerable’ form a constituent part in the social-economic systems that make a city resilient. Here then, key to all these presentations was to reframe urban resilience to recognize the qualities found in ‘vulnerability’ and that resilience definitions are often over-simplified in their social framing.

Delving into the politics of resilience: the role of social resilience cells and their alliances in the co-implementation of housing plans. The case study of HousingNOLA.
Angeliki Paidakaki, Hans Leinfelder, Constanza Parra, Pieter Van den Broek

The first presentation used SRC (social resilience cells) to analyze resilience politics in relation to post-disaster housing. Its aims were to analyze the efficacy of SRC in the implementation of post-disaster housing plans, i.e how stakeholder engagement is managed and how SRC’s can become part of local policy to ensure Council members embrace it and to outlive any political cycle. It argued that SRC’s need to become stronger at a state level as local states don’t have the power to apply their own policies. It argued that sustainable development is still relevant, and how sustainability and resilience can be aligned. The key to the study in understanding the relevance of SRC was to ensure pressure is applied to governance to ensure the coproduction of recovery plans that treat all affected areas and people in an equitable way. They hold a unique position in multi-level governance structures and are able to engage with housing plans and policy to ensure political cycles do not interfere with disaster recovery plans. Additionally, the presentation argued that there are literary voids in coproduction and the distribution of power in housing planning in disaster recovery settings.

Linking the gentrification of traditional retail markets and the resilience of centres of commerce
Pedro Guimaraes

This presentation argued that the gentrification of retail spaces is causing retail spaces, such as traditional markets to become less resilient. An erosion of these traditional retail spaces due to gentrification and tourism is resulting an erosion of traditional commerce for local residents. Therefore the presentation argued that gentrification not only degrades retail resilience but the social systems of place. The case study of Campo de Ourique was used to demonstrate how the touristic draw of a traditional market place is a causality of its gentrification. This presentation used gentrification metaphorically to describe a system that is harmed by gentrification. It didn’t seek to idealize how urban resilience may provide traditional marketplaces with a process of bouncing back and forward. Rather it seemed to take a conservative viewpoint that these marketplaces need to remain intact in order for them to be resilient. It argued it’s the social importance of these markets, creating a social place for commerce and encounters, where social bonds are formed through diverse means. It sees the old retail markets as assets not to be changed. In this presentation the argument is framed around the resilience towards an impending gentrification. The resilience framework was used as an indicator to disseminate when the market has become gentrified

Don’t Blame it on the Sunshine! An Exploration of the Spatial Distribution of Heat Injustice Across Two Antwerp City Districts
Sarah Feder, Manon Burbidge, Shudi Yan, Tibbe Smith Larsen

The focus of the argument within this presentation was of heat injustice, that the most vulnerable are often subject to hotter urban environments. In used green spaces as a case point to contend the most marginalized have less access to these spaces; that help mediate climatic conditions in cities. Rather than arguing for a form of resilience per-say, the presenter used their example to demonstrate a positive effect or bonus of urban resilience thinking. Here then it is using resilience to leverage their argument for a more equitable form of green space in cities. Key to the argument is environmental injustice and the joint process of neo-liberal planning and social exclusion. It seeks to provide model for a resident participation to map heat injustice in urban environments to inform more equitable planning policy in the urban environments. Through this equitable participatory urban model, the presentation aligned with urban resilience thinking in that a city to be resilient need to function in multiple scales.

Gentrification-resilient cities. Urban livability and anti-gentrification requirements for improving cities and social life
Alessandro Plaisant, Alice Sulas

The critique in this presentation was around gentrification eroding cities (in this case Barcelona’s) urban resilience. The goal is to realign policies towards more sustainable model. It used resilience as an indicator toward gentrified areas of the city; ones which could then be intervened in with anti-gentrification measures to re-enhance the social resilience of the areas. Again here, alike with the presentation of retail resilience, the argument is that gentrification erodes unique social qualities of place. However, the presentation provided a framework to bounce forward and create more resilient neighborhoods, eradicating and building back better for future stability of urban communities. The argument provided an operational framework for resilience in assigning key drivers to move towards more resilient cities. Here as with other presentation the argument was of social innovation playing a key role and anti-gentrification as a measure for more equitable urban environments. The argument here is for resilience to gentrification, again though measuring the positive social factors that can be built reintroduced into planning policy not only to fight gentrification but intern provide more resilient urban spaces.

Uneven (green) landscapes of resilience and protection: Climate gentrification in urban climate adaptation
Galia Shokry, Isabelle Anguelovski, James Connolly

This presentation intended to disseminate whether green and resilience mechanisms meet the needs and protect the most marginalized of societies. Here urban resilience is critiqued, seeking to understand its limitations in meeting these needs. It also raises the debate around climate gentrification; that green and resilient interventions lead to gentrification in areas. The argument was to reframe resilience research; or rather highlight the potential harm that investment in certain green infrastructures can bring by enhancing inequalities in society. Again within this presentation was a reframing that considered the impacts of marginalized people in society due to gentrification arguing that the policy emphasis on green infrastructure as a strategy to create more urban resilience is eroding the social fabric of cities. Here then a re-framing aligned with fostering more bottom-up resilience building strategies can be seen. The research questions whether ‘green-infrastructures’ could further exacerbate the plight vulnerable communities through displacement due to gentrification and create cities for the privileged. Additionally, it critiqued the use of green infrastructures as a place-making tool, questioning its approach as part of a holistic urban resilience strategy.