After Gentrification: Social Mix, Settler Colonialism, and Cruel Optimism in the Transformation of Neighbourhood Space

Jean-Paul D. Addie, Georgia State University
James C. Fraser, University of Minnesota

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Social mix policies have emerged as a prominent mechanism to legitimate neighbourhood redevelopment efforts across the US. Despite integrationist rhetoric, results often disabuse marginalised communities of their claims to the city. This paper employs a hybrid spatio‐temporal analysis at the intersection of political‐economic theories of gentrification and post‐colonial and Black geographies literatures to examine underlying cultural logics and affective experiences animating such processes of neighbourhood transformation, contestation, and succession. Reflecting on 15 years of experience researching Over‐the‐Rhine (OTR), Cincinnati, we contribute a stylised distinction between the foundational, mature, and ongoing legacies of urban settler colonial relations. Our account discloses the power geometries shaping neighbourhood space by illustrating the impact of the discourses, tactics, and strategies employed by pro‐development actors and neighbourhood activists as OTR's socio‐political landscape shifted over time. In conclusion, we engage the thorny questions these dynamics raise surrounding how inner‐city neighbourhoods are theorised and struggled over after gentrification.