Next Monday, October 23, 6 pm, at Humboldt University’s Institute of Social Sciences, Universitätstrasse 3b (on the M1 line!), sociologist Sebastian Juhnke will give a talk titled “Between Belonging and Being “Part of a Problem”: Creative Professionals in Hackney and Neukölln”. Here’s the abstract:
Members of the ‘creative class’ (Florida 2003), a demographic of both growing size and importance for the economic vitality of cities, are attracted by tolerant, diverse and open-minded environments. These creative professionals are frequently drawn to ethnically diverse neighbourhoods that are still in the process of gentrification, as it is the case for Hackney in London, and Neukölln in Berlin. Based on empirical research in both boroughs, this talk will discuss the ambivalent position that creative professionals occupy within these places: they claim belonging to place, yet are aware of being complicit in the gentrification of these neighbourhoods. In this process, a variety of strategies is employed to differentiate oneself from other gentrifiers and tourists, for instance by claiming to be more creative, to have a more genuine interest in and understanding of diversity and difference – and hence being better able to identify and appreciate an ‘authentic’ neighbourhood. These strategies furthermore include reflections upon an own role in the gentrification process, for instance contributions to housing market competition, changes in the economic landscape and certain forms of cultural representation. It will be argued that such an awareness has become part of the ubiquitous gentrification discourse and therefore yet another way of claiming belonging and cementing inequalities in gentrifying multicultural neighbourhoods. Adding to the work of Savage et. al (2005) and Watt (2009) on selective and elective belonging, this talk will present a conceptualization of reflexive forms of belonging, including the possibilities and limitations they bring about for addressing urban change.
The talk is part of the Think&Drink lecture series (with very little drinking, mind you) and open to everyone.