Gentrification Nation: Inequality, Narrative, Desire
Proposals are invited for a session on gentrification narratives at the 2016 American Studies Association annual meeting (Denver, Nov 17-20). The premise is that narratives are the way we make sense of the transformation of our cities. We argue, to be sure, and we marshal data, but we rely on storytelling. Like all narratives, those about gentrification involve plots, characters, themes, structures, tropes, and conventions. They evoke established genres, including jeremiads, sentimental melodramas, and satires. They come in many forms, from tweets to novels, from films to yelp reviews to speeches by elected officials.
Gentrification narratives are especially vital today because they draw on our often contradictory feelings about crime, safety, freedom, and human flourishing. And they invariably turn on assumptions or assertions about race and class. This session will examine the prevailing narratives about gentrification – condemning, condoning, or ambivalent – in order to ask what they express and what they obscure. What considerations constitute normative frameworks for thinking about gentrification, and what desires do these frameworks foreclose or displace?
Interdisciplinary proposals are encouraged, bringing humanities and social science methods to bear on traditional or nontraditional objects of inquiry, including visual art, oral history, fiction, poetry, journalism, and performance. Proposals of 300 words may be emailed along with a brief bio to James Davis (firstname.lastname@example.org) by January 28, 2016. Further information about the conference is available at the ASA website (http://www.theasa.net/annual_meeting/page/submit_a_proposal/).
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