The Aesthetics of Gentrification

Anton Wedding


The paper that I want to present examines the aesthetic coding of the processes that determine the economic, social and ideological shaping of urban spaces. I call this the aethetics of gentrification. The examination will focus on aethetic literary codes in the recent city planning of Malmö (Sweden). Those literary codes are performative literary acts, through which global capital acts in urban spaces. The examination is first and foremost a literary study, drawing upon the narratology of Barthes and Genette. But it will also include Lefebvres and Harveys theories on space, and especially Harveys notions on time-/space-compression.

The aesthetics of gentrification has one main form of appearance and one "meta" form of appearance: 1. As more or less unconscious tropes in political-economic urban planning and/or marketing 2. As more or less critical approaches to those tropes in theoretical literature or in fiction.

The forst one of these forms is found in, for example, urban planning documents, local information and advertising. I categorize all those "marketing", since they all - once again more or less consciously - serve capital.

In this sense the language of gentrification is not only a certain rhetoric, but a (neo-liberal/capitalist) economic-political logic. How then can this logic be dialecticallty understood?

This is where the "meta"-appearance of the aesthetics of gentrification becomes important. Literature, and more specifically fiction has the ability to transform subjective space, and the transformation of subjective space is action and promotes action. But how can this transformation "take place", and how can it do so whithin - or transcend - the linguistic and political logic of capital?

aesthetics - gentrification - literature - urban planning - urbanism