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The Right to Stay Put: Contesting Displacement in Urban Regeneration / Development schemes

28 Aug 2009 - 10:00
29 Aug 2009 - 21:00

Royal Geographical Society / Institute of British Geographers Annual International Conference, 26-29 August 2009, Manchester

Session: The Right to Stay Put: Contesting Displacement in Urban Regeneration / Development schemes (sponsored by the Participatory Geographies Working Group)

Friday 28 and Saturday 29 August 2009

Venue: Ida Kinsley Village Centre, 17 Guide Post Road, Grove Village, Manchester M13 9HP

Session Organisers:

Chris Allen (Manchester Metropolitan University), c.allen@mmu.ac.uk

Lee Crookes (University of Sheffield), l.crookes@sheffield.ac.uk

Stuart Hodkinson (University of Leeds), s.n.hodkinson@leeds.ac.uk

Tom Slater (University of Edinburgh), tom.slater@ed.ac.uk

Description:

It is now 25 years since Chester Hartman first advanced the notion of the 'right to stay put' for lower income group struggles against gentrification. Since then, gentrification and related processes of privatisation and marketisation have become integral to neoliberal urban strategies across the world. In Britain, 'state-led gentrification' (Davidson 2007) now impels urban regeneration schemes such as Housing Market Renewal (Allen 2008) and even the government's council housing modernisation programme 'Decent Homes'. Despite this proliferation, academics have generally responded poorly to Hartman's call to arms. Rather, as Slater observes (2006, 2008), gentrification research has generally lost its critical edge, and from some quarters gentrification has even been celebrated as beneficial to incumbent low-income groups (Freeman, 2006; Vigdor, 2002). This is not our experience and with this session we seek to restore Hartman's principle to the heart of gentrification research by inviting contributions from activist geographers in the widest sense of the term (academics, teachers, housing professionals, campaigners, trade unionists and ordinary residents) to share and exchange their experiences, insights and methods to better defend people's 'right to stay put'. In the spirit of making geography 'relevant' beyond the policy-academy complex, the session will have a practical orientation and will offer reflections, stories, tactics, lessons and strategies for developing successful urban resistances. The aims are to: (1) share experiences and develop practical knowledges about what works in urban resistance; (2) create an educational space for encounter and dialogue between those involved in similar critical work and activism; and (3) start to develop an action research network and a knowledge/resource base for wider dissemination.

We seek ideas for participation which address some or more of the following themes:
• Grassroots knowledges about gentrification and resistance
• Examples of (un)successful individual or collective resistance
• Developing strategies and tactics of urban resistance
• Power, counter-power, resources, methodological innovations
• The planning system, public inquiries, community planning
• Legal challenges to evictions and Compulsory Purchase Orders
• Human rights issues with respect to land and home
• Using the Freedom of Information Act and other research methods
• Alternatives to gentrification / displacement / privatisation
• Implications of the new Homes and Communities Agency
• Roles, responsibilities and experiences of academics and other educators in resistance
• Alliance building and creating a UK Right to the City movement

How the event will work

First of all, please note that our event is 'free' – there is no admission costs because we have hired our own venue. However, we welcome small solidarity donations to cover food, drink and contribute to the Community Centre’s costs.

To clarify – all those who intend to attend other sessions at the RGS-IBG conference – except those organised by the Participatory Geographies Working Group taking place at the Ida Kinsley Village Centre throughout the week which are free and open to the public – will need to register online: www.rgs.org/Ac2009Registration

The Right to Stay Put event will be organised into 4 main sessions:

Session 1 explores gentrification and displacement in action

Sessions 2 and 3 explore resistance in action

Session 4 explores how we can develop local to global strategies, networks and alternatives

Sessions 1-3 will take place on Day 1 - the 28th August. They will each be 1h 45m long and organised in a more traditional paper-giving format.

Session 4 will take place on Saturday morning-afternoon and will be split between papers and an open roundtable 'working' discussion. We will then take you on a tour of Manchester's urban development and struggles and hold a social-benefit in the evening with films.

We propose that each paper has 15 minutes, is very focused on speaking to the concrete themes put out in our conference call, leaving plenty of time for interactive discussion in each session.