Living in Gentrified Ellipses … Falling Apart Without Ceasing to Exist

Authors: Stuart Aitken*, San Diego State University
Topics: Urban Geography, Cultural Geography, Human Rights
Keywords: Erasure, Displacement, Psychogeogrpahy, Gentrification
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Balcony L, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Lauren Berlant’s idea of ‘living in ellipses’ -- as a metaphor for dissociation, leaps and abridgement -- has an uncanny resemblance to D.W. Winnicott’s potential spaces. Berlant defines her ellipses as spaces where the known meets what is unknowable. The problem with objects, she avers, is that they are always inadequate, which then turns back on the insufficiency of the self because the conditions of belonging cannot be presumed and always return to dissociation. For Berlant, living in ellipses is playful, like living in Winnicott’s potential spaces, but also comedic in the sense that the subject falls apart without ceasing to exist. We use this idea to interrogate gentrification affects. There is something impulsive, capricious and fickle about the idiosyncratic and inconsistent slow violence of gentrification. The consequences are not often whimsical, in Berlant’s sense, indeed they are usually profoundly disturbing. But with that said, there is a generative potential for transformation and change through falling apart without ceasing to exist. With this paper, we highlight what displacement does – its affects – amongst Roma in gentrifying neighborhoods in Maribor (Slovenia) and Bucharest (Romania), using ethnopoetics to reinforce the emotional resonance of interviews. We argue that although the consequences of gentrification are appalling and horrific for those displaced, there are often opportunities for new associations that result in emotional citizenry and communities of care.

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