How Gentrification is killing our cities, and what we can do about it
What does gentrification look like? Can we even agree that it is a process that replaces one community with another? It is a question of class? Or of economic opportunity? Who does it affect the most? Is there any way to combat it? Leslie Kern, author of the best selling Feminist City, travels from Toronto, New York, London, Paris and San Francisco and scrutinises the myth and lies that surround this most urgent urban crisis of our times.
First observed in 1950s London, and theorised by leading thinkers such as Ruth Glass, Jane Jacobs and Sharon Zukin, this devastating process of displacement now can be found in every city and most neighbourhoods. Beyond the Yoga studio, farmer's market and tattoo parlour, gentrification is more than a metaphor, but impacts the most vulnerable communities.
Kern proposes an intersectional way at looking at the crisis that seek to reveal the violence based on class, race, gender and sexuality. She argues that gentrification is not natural That it can not be understood in economics terms, or by class. That it is not a question of taste. That it can only be measured only by the physical displacement of certain people.
Rather, she argues, it is an continuation of the setter colonial project that removed natives from their land. And it can be seen today is rising rents and evictions, transformed retail areas, increased policing and broken communities.
But if gentrification is not inevitable, what can we do to stop the tide? In response, Kern proposes a genuinely decolonial, feminist, queer, anti-gentrification. One that demands the right to the city for everyone and the return of land and reparations for those who have been displaced.
About the Author
Leslie Kern is an associate professor of geography and environment and director of women's and gender studies at Mount Allison University. She is the author of Feminist City: Making Space in a Man-Made World.
“A sweeping and fluid new book on gentrification. Kern expertly weaves theory, concepts, and up-to-date debates about gentrification together, making it accessible not only to urban scholars but to general readers too. A superb book I would have liked to have written but didn’t. A must-read for anyone interested in gentrification.” —Loretta Lees, Director of the Initiative on Cities, Boston University
“Confronts gentrification with a multidimensional and intersectional critique, revealing the process of urban “improvement” as an unending campaign of social exclusion and a biting metaphor for making money. She combines her own experience as a city dweller with extensive social research to provide both a call for creative collective action and a good read.” —Sharon Zukin, author of Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places
“From the forced removal of Indigenous people to the redlining of Black neighbourhoods, from the disenfranchisement of women through suburbanization to the expulsion of the LGBTQ+ community, Kern’s writing is a rallying cry for the decolonization of placemaking and a blueprint for an urbanism rooted in social justice and fairness.” —Christine Murray, editor-in-chief of The Developer and director of the Festival of Place
“Kern is a wonderful writer, and this compelling, important, and highly original intervention in the gentrification debates is a staggering tour de force. At once a devastating critique of the limitations of established perspectives on gentrification and a convincing plea for an intersectional approach, this book offers sparklingly clear analysis and numerous possibilities for political action. Anyone who reads it will never forget it.” —Tom Slater, author of Shaking Up the City: Ignorance, Inequality, and the Urban Question
“In this clear and smartly written book, Leslie Kern brings together some of the most recognizable and essential elements of urban gentrification, making this familiar and ubiquitous term strange, in the most effective and generative ways. Gentrification is Inevitable and Other Lies arms geographers, cultural theorists, planners, and the general public with an essential understanding of the myths, markings, and formation of global gentrification.” —Brandi Thompson Summers, author of Black in Place: The Spatial Aesthetics of Race in a Post-Chocolate City
“A concise but also comprehensive account of gentrification, offering solutions and understanding of one of the major social battlegrounds of our times.” —Danny Dorling, author of Inequality and The 1%
“An excellent job of puncturing the myths and exposing the ideologies that make gentrification seem natural, inevitable, and desirable. And with incisive clarity, she develops an account of what a radical, intersectional anti-gentrification politics might look like.” —David Madden, co-author of In Defense of Housing
“Arms geographers, cultural theorists, planners, and the general public with an essential understanding of the myths, markings, and formation of global gentrification.” —Brandi Thompson Summers, author of Black in Place
“In 10 succinct chapters, Kern defines and outlines the current arguments surrounding gentrification while focusing on the inability to adequately discuss it with each other or within communities. Each chapter contains solid examples of where, when, and why gentrification is appearing in communities, and what the impact is on each respective group. The impact of gentrification on race, class, gender, age, and Indigenous peoples are astutely explored … A first class analysis and tool kit.” —Tina Panik, Library Journal (starred review)
“[Kern] ends with a decisive call to action, broken down into small, accessible, and implementable steps. It emphasizes that gentrification touches everyone’s lives, and that everyone therefore has a responsibility to devote their specific skills to reducing its impact on vulnerable populations. Gentrification Is Inevitable and Other Lies is a humane analysis of the many contributing and consequential factors of urban takeovers.” —Foreword Reviews
“Drawing on research from Buenos Aires, Chicago, Toronto, and other cities, Kern documents neighborhoods in the process of change and those that have stopped or reshaped gentrification. She lucidly explains modern feminist and urban theories and brings fresh insights and a measure of hope to a vexing social issue. [A] searing yet inspirational polemic.” —Publishers Weekly
“Inspired by the likes of Jane Jacobs and Sharon Zukin, urban scholar Leslie Kern proposes an intersectional way at looking at the gentrification crisis amid our current economic climate, based on class, race, gender, and sexuality.” —Fortune
“Gentrification Is Inevitable and Other Lies is an accessible read thanks to Kern’s storytelling skills and her conscious intent to write for a broad audience outside of academia.” —Quill & Quire
“In Gentrification Is Inevitable and Other Lies, Leslie Kern travels to Toronto, Vancouver, New York, London and Paris to look at how gentrification is killing our cities and what we can do about it. She examines the often invisible forces that shape urban neighbourhoods, including settler colonialism, racism, sexism, ageism, ableism and how city lovers can work together to turn the tide.” —CBC (“60 works of nonfiction to watch for in fall 2022”)
“Leslie Kern dissects seven common myths about gentrification, asserting that any study of the urban phenomenon should be examined not only in terms of class but also through the lenses of queer-feminist, anti-racist, and decolonial points of view. The final chapter explores these three frameworks in depth, offering actionable steps toward a more equitable urbanism that centers such concepts as infrastructures of care, Land Back movements, reparations, and environmental justice.” —Metropolis Magazine
“Leslie Kern unpacks the complexity of gentrification and the power dynamics, economic systems, and cultural symbols associated with it. Importantly, she analyzes the phenomenon and current events—like the Moms 4 Housing takeover of a vacant Oakland rental and noise complaints in Harlem—through a feminist and de-colonialist lens. It’s an essential perspective when it comes to figuring out how to make our cities more equitable for all.” —Diana Budds, Curbed (“The Best New Books for Design, Architecture, and Urbanism Enthusiasts”)