New directions in gentrification studies: From inequities in neighborhood greening to emerging injustice(s) in new urban food spaces

Friday June 3rd 6pm to 8pm, Malet Street, Room MAL 532, London, WC1E 7HX

Join us for a talk by Dr. Isabelle Anguelovski followed by responses from Dr. Daisy Tam (Assistant Professor, Hong Kong Baptist University) and Aaron Vansintjan (Birkbeck PhD Candidate, Technologies of Sustainability Scholarship).

The event is co-sponsored by Birkbeck’s Department of Film, Media and Cultural Studies, the Architecture Space and Society Reserach Centre (ASSC), BIRMAC (Birkbeck Interdisciplinary Studies in Media, Art and Culture) and the Birkbeck Food Group.

Local activists engaged in contemporary environmental justice struggles not only fight against traditional forms of hazardous locally unwanted land uses (LULUs), they also organize to make their neighborhoods livable and green. However, urban environmental justice activism is at a crossroads: As marginalized neighborhoods become revitalized, outside investors start to value them again and they themselves invest in green amenities. Yet vulnerable residents are now raising concerns about the risk of displacement from their neighborhoods in consequence of environmental gentrification processes. Their fear is linked to environmental amenities such as new parks or remodeled waterfronts, as well as (most recently) healthy food stores. In this presentation, I examine how recent green urban redevelopment trends translate into possibly the ultimate urban environmental justice tragedy through new dynamics of marginalization which seem to accompany green projects or amenities. Such trends thus create a new paradox for academics, activists, and planners who defend an environmental justice agenda. Through case studies in the Global North and South, I examine how specific projects developed under the label or discourse of green infrastructure planning, urban sustainability planning, or sustainable local food systems, might become GREENLULUS – Green Locally Unwanted Land Uses – for long-term marginalized urban residents because such agendas and projects create new patterns of reinvestment, and often speculation, exclusion, and displacement of vulnerable residents.

Isabelle Anguelovski is a social scientist trained in urban studies and planning (MIT, 2011), non-profit management (Harvard University, 2004), international development (Université de Paris 1-Panthéon Sorbonne, 2001), and political studies (Science Po, 2000). She is currently a Senior Researcher and Principal Investigator at the Institute for Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA) at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and Lecturer in the Architecture School (ESARQ) of the International University of Catalunya (UIC). Her research is situated at the intersection of urban planning and policy, social inequality, and development studies. Her recent projects examine the extent to which urban plans and policy decisions contribute to more just, resilient, healthy, and sustainable cities, and how community groups in distressed neighborhoods contest the existence, creation, or exacerbation of environmental inequities as a result of urban (re)development.

She is currently the coordinator of the research line “Cities and Environmental Justice” at ICTA and she will, over the next five years (2016-2021), be coordinating the ERC funded project GREENLULUS. She will also be directing the Barcelona Lab for Urban Environmental Justice and Sustainability, a research laboratory carrying comparative and interdisciplinary research, developing new teaching methods and courses, and promoting learning on justice and inclusion for planning sustainable, green, and healthy cities.

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