Gentrification in the Global South?

Authored by: Loretta Lees

The Routledge Handbook on Cities of the Global South

Print publication date:  March  2014
Online publication date:  March  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415818650
eBook ISBN: 9780203387832
Adobe ISBN: 9781136678202


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Over the past two decades a significant transformation has taken place in the global economy caused by the rapid economic growth of developing countries like China, India, Brazil and South Africa. The economic centre of gravity in the world seems to be moving towards the ‘developing’ south. Coincident with this transformation have been reports about gentrification emerging in the global south from academics and the media alike. There were academic references to gentrification in the global south in the 1990s (e.g. Garside 1993; Jones and Varley 1999), but the literature on gentrification in the global south, in countries such as China, Singapore, South Korea, India, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Mexico and South Africa, really began to take off in the 2000s (for examples see Visser 2002; He 2007; Harris 2008; Shin 2009; López-Morales 2010). While some highlight the similarities of their findings with gentrification in the global north, others point to exacerbated social and economic cleavages in gentrifying areas of the global south when compared to the north (see Grant and Nijman 2002). Harris (2008: 2423) argues that rather than exporting Eurocentric understandings of gentrification to the global south we need to learn from the ‘new sharp-edged forms’ of gentrification emerging in the previously peripheral cities of the global south.

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