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This workshop, jointly organised by Amsterdam Centre for Urban History and Centre for Urban Studies, aims to develop long-term perspective on urban displacement, social transformation and resistance.

Detail Summary
Date Start 9 May 2019 End 10 May 2019
The Horbury mews were constructed for household staff but became popular among middle classes in the 70s and 80s. Photo: Ivan Moskalev, CC BY-SA 3.0


Gentrification is one of the most striking developments of our time, radically impacting residential, consumption and investment patterns, and urban culture more broadly. Yet despite its significance, little is known about gentrification processes predating the repopulation of Western cities from the 1980s onwards. While geographers are more inclined to focus on contemporary developments, historians seem wary of using the term when examining the social transformation of bygone eras. This leaves us with a remarkable gap on the historical understanding of gentrification. Tracing the history of the phenomenon will enable us to challenge common definitions, perceptions and stereotypes. This in turn will inform contemporary debates about whether or not a concept such as gentrification, rooted in the specific historical-institutional context of mostly Anglo-Saxon cities, can be transferred across global contexts and considered a “planetary” phenomenon.

Aims and objectives

With the organisation of a two-day workshop, the Amsterdam Centre for Urban History and Centre for Urban Studies aim to bring together academics from the fields of urban geography, urban history and other urban studies-related subdisciplines. Long-term and comparative perspectives, covering multiple case studies and prolonged periods of time, are encouraged in particular.

The workshop will be hosted by the University of Amsterdam, and will be preceded by a keynote lecture by Suleiman Osman: 'The Historical Pitfalls of Gentrification'. Gentrification is one of the most contentious issues in cities around the globe today. But does it have a history? Five decades after sociologist Ruth Glass coined the term in 1964, gentrification is beginning to attract more attention from historians. But the hotly contested word presents several potential pitfalls for historical analysis. This talk will introduce some of these pitfalls and offer potential paths toward forging a “history of gentrification”.

 We aim to publish a selection of workshop papers in a special issue of a peer-reviewedjournal. Guided walks through the gentrified Jordaan district are part of the two-day programme as well. Participation is free of charge, but the workshop organisers are not able to reimburse travelling costs or overnight stays.

Preliminary Programme

Thursday 9 May

09:30 VOC-zaal Arrival & Coffee
10:00 Jordaan Guided City Walk
12:00 VOC-zaal Lunch Break
12:45 VOC-zaal Opening Tim Verlaan & Cody Hochstenbach
13:00 VOC-zaal Keynote Suleiman Osman: 'The Historical Pitfalls of Gentrification'
14:30 F2.11C Session 1: Manuel Aalbers & Daniel Sorando
15:30   Coffee Break
16:00 F2.11C Session 2: Aimée Albers & Marianne Klerk 

Friday 10 May

9:30 F0.21 Arrival & Coffee
10:00 F0.21 Session 3: Philip Lawton & Andreas Kunzi
11:00 F0.21 Session 4: Giovanni Semi, Magda Bolzoni & Remco Vermeulen
12:00   Lunch Break
13:00 F0.21 Session 5: Giacomo Salerno & Greta Suveges
14:00 F0.21 Closing remarks: Tim Verlaan & Cody Hochstenbach

Location and Organisation

This workshop is organised by Tim Verlaan (Centre for Urban History) and Cody Hochstenbach (Centre for Urban Studies) and is funded by a Centre for Urban Studies Seed Grant and a grant from the Centre for Urban History. 

Participation is free of charge, but please register by sending an email to Cody Hochstenbach.

Bushuis/Oost-Indisch Huis
Bushuis/Oost-Indisch Huis

Kloveniersburgwal 48
1012 CX Amsterdam