Lecture “Gentrification and the Geography of Racial Inequality” by Ronald Sundstrom

6 juni 2018, 13:00 - 14:30 | Theater Hall C (close to the lunch corner), Elinor Ostrom building, Heyendaalseweg 141, Radboud University, Nijmegen | Radboud University, Nijmegen

Hereby you are kindly invited to attend a lecture by prof. Ronald Sundstrom on the relation between a normative assessment of gentrification and the history of racial injustice.

Gentrification and the Geography of Racial Inequality
The standard view in left academic and activist circles is that gentrification is unethical and unjust. It is a mark of social inequality and is the result of a process of urban transformation made possible by that inequality, and it worsens it by displacing and excluding the working-classes and the poor from urban neighborhoods that previously experienced neglect, disinvestment, the concentration of poverty, and ethnic or racial segregation. It is a global phenomenon with distinct local and regional conditions and effects. The normative framing of gentrification has been led, in opposition, by neo-Marxist urban scholars, the principle figure being the geographer Neil Smith (The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City, 1996), and in support, by an assortment of urban scholars who claim that the return to the city by young professionals is due to cultural changes, and by real estate professionals offering neoliberal and libertarian justifications for urban revitalization. There has been little reaction to this global issue from ethical and political theorists. This gap has been filled by Margaret Kohn’s book _The Death and Life of the Urban Commonwealth_(2016) and Tyler Zimmer’s article “Gentrification as Injustice: A Relational Egalitarian Approach to Urban Housing” (2017). Kohn offers a luck egalitarian response while Zimmer offers a relational egalitarian one to criticize gentrification. I move a back a step from Kohn and Zimmer and first consider conceptual and empirical concerns about gentrification and displacement that effect their normative analysis and calls into question their conclusions. I argue that, first, gentrification-based displacement may not be the problem that critics charge it is, that, second, the focus on gentrification obscures larger injustices with spatial dimensions and the consequences of the history of housing discrimination against African Americans and other targeted groups. With those conceptual and empirical concerns in view, I offer an alternative egalitarian analysis that prioritizes corrective justice for the ghetto poor and working-classes that currently suffer from the legacy of concentrated poverty, hyper-segregation, and geographic immobility.

Ronald R. Sundstrom is a Professor and former Chair of Philosophy, member of the African American Studies and Critical Diversity Studies programs, and former Faculty Director of the Core Curriculum at the University of San Francisco. His areas of research include race theory, political and social theory, and African American philosophy. He published several essays and a book in these areas, including The Browning of America and The Evasion of Social Justice (SUNY 2008). His current book project, Spatial Justice & Racial Equality, is on race, integration, gentrification, and equality.

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