Hope, fear and ambiguity among residents in a Danish affordable housing estate under transformation
Jonas Strandholdt Bach
Paper short abstract:
The housing estate Gellerup in Aarhus, Denmark, is under transformation. Heavy investments in infrastructure in conjunction with other efforts are to transform Gellerup from "disadvantaged estate to attractive neighborhood". But the residents are ambiguous about their place in the future estate.
Paper long abstract:
The affordable housing estate Gellerup in Aarhus, Denmark, is under transformation. Heavy investments in new infrastructure, new buildings and refurbishments of the apartments in conjunction with social efforts are intended to transform Gellerup from "disadvantaged estate to attractive neighborhood". But many residents with immigrant background fear they do not have a place in the future attractive neighborhood. That attractiveness is estimated on the percentage of immigrant residents among other factors, as social mixing has become a way of dealing with estates like Gellerup. Where the transformation of estates like Gellerup is framed as a solution to the clustering of problems like unemployment, high crime levels and lack of integration, some of the residents with immigrant background feel exposed and fear that the transformations will lead to a worsening of their situation or even their eventual removal from the estate. At the same time, many acknowledge that transformations are needed and welcome many of the initiatives of the Master Plan. The transformations of the Master Plan are currently "betwixt and between" to use a phrase from Victor Turner. This means that the residents, both of Danish and immigrant descent, are in a position where both negative and positive outcomes of the initiatives are imaginable, where the future can seem both insecure and full of positive potential. In the midst of the transformations, hope and fear, optimism and pessimism coexist and converge in the long-term perspectives of planning and the shorter term perspectives of dwelling.
Vulnerability and housing policies: anthropological insights across Europe