Accepted paper:

Redeeming abject space: gentrification in Amsterdam's Diamantbuurt

Author:

Anouk de Koning (Leiden University)

Paper short abstract:

Since 2004 Amsterdam’s Diamantbuurt has been employed as a stand in for Dutch dystopian urban landscapes. Local young men of Moroccan descent are the villains of the story, “Dutch” residents their victims. Such framing is echoed in local policies. In this paper I discuss how different actors engage with top-down gentrification policies and their framing of the troubled Diamantbuurt.

Paper long abstract:

Since 2004 Amsterdam's Diamantbuurt has consistently been used as an example of dystopian urban landscapes that are the cause of Dutch distress. Local young men of Moroccan descent are the archetypical villains of the story, "Dutch" residents their classic victims. Such framing is echoed in local policies in terms of the definition and framing of problems, the cast of characters that is presented, and the ways in which affections are distributed among these iconic figures. In this paper, I explore such resonances in gentrification policies. In the Diamantbuurt, the sale of social housing is seen as a way to redeem what in media discourses is portrayed as an abject space. In line with current urban policy wisdom, gentrification is seen as a road to redemption through the replacement of parts of the sitting population, figured as troublesome and fraudulent, with wealthier urbanites who are expected to bring a different social life and present a better match with the market value of this "underdeveloped" part of central Amsterdam. Such policies imply iconic figures that are indelibly race, class and gender-inflected: the large, poor migrant family versus the young white yuppie couple. In this paper I discuss how different actors - real-estate agents, housing professionals and activists, and various residents - engage with such top-down gentrification policies and their framing of the troubled Diamantbuurt.

panel W078
Urban renewal, uncertainty and exclusion (EN)