cover image Gentrification Is Inevitable and Other Lies

Gentrification Is Inevitable and Other Lies

Leslie Kern. Verso, $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-83976-754-8

Kern (Feminist City), a professor of geography and environment at Mount Allison University, argues in this searing yet inspirational polemic that “gentrification is built on finding ways to take what others have created while simultaneously wiping away their presence, contributions, and history.” Drawing on research from Buenos Aires, Chicago, Toronto, and other cities, Kern documents neighborhoods in the process of change and those that have stopped or reshaped gentrification. Her analysis is based on an intersectional approach that seeks to identify “the multiple axes of power that gentrification manipulates and works through” while encouraging readers to develop “a richer recognition of class as always intertwined with race, gender, sexuality, and colonialism, among other power relations.” For example, she explains how groups like artists, single moms, and students can inadvertently prime a neighborhood for gentrification, and why locals rarely benefit long-term from environmental cleanup efforts, since less-polluted neighborhoods immediately become prime real estate for developers. Kern may be largely preaching to the choir—at one point she admits she doesn’t know why “a private property developer, a landlord evicting tenants to increase the rent, or a real estate speculator” would be reading this book—but she lucidly explains modern feminist and urban theories and brings fresh insights and a measure of hope to a vexing social issue. Progressives will take heart. (Sept.)