Hipster-driven gentrification as metonymic movement of desire

Authors: JAEYEON LEE*, UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY
Topics: Landscape, Social Theory, Asia
Keywords: Lacanian Landscapes, Hipster, gentrification, hysteric subject, neoliberal capitalism, metonymic movement of desire
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Ambassador Ballroom, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Lacan explains the hysteric as one who seeks to constitute herself as the object for the Other’s desire and creates an unsatisfied desire for herself, asking: “What does the hysteric desire? She desires Caviar. […] And what does she want? She wants not to be given caviar (2017: 343).” While drawing a parallel between the hysteric and the hipster, I ask in a similar way: “What does the hipster desire? The hipster desires a new place. And what does the hipster want? The hipster wants not to be given the new place.” I define the hipster as the hysteric subject, who constantly produces unsatisfied and self-contradictory desires in responding to the lack of neoliberal capitalism, by refusing to follow an order of obscene superego of capitalism including a flashing neon “Enjoy Coca-Cola” sign. In doing so, I argue that the split between demand and desire of the hipster functions as a force of continuing gentrification in Seoul, S. Korea. I also emphasize that SNS such as Instagram and Tumblr are a window through which the hipsters recognize a desire beyond their demand, display themselves as the object of desire, and share some of the jouissance circulating in the Other. Arguing that the hipster sustains him/herself by producing unsatisfied desires, I demonstrate that hipster-driven gentrification in Seoul shows that neoliberal capitalism is a system (re)producing metonymy of desire. By doing so, I demonstrate how Lacan’s concepts can guide dialectical movements of hipster-driven gentrification, that is, from one region to the next.

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