Understanding state-led gentrification ‘from below’: Lived experiences of large-scale urban renewal in Germany’s Global City Frankfurt am Main

Authors: Johanna Betz*, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: gentification, global city, displacement, housing, inequality, subaltern urbanization
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 31
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In our contribution we ask how state-led gentrification is experienced and negotiated by marginalized subjects and how we as radical urban scholars can move forward in our struggles for socio-spatial justice. Since the early 1990s the city of Frankfurt has used a set of innovative entrepreneurial urban planning tools in order to upgrade the former working-class neighborhood Gallus and deliver one of Europe’s largest urban renewal projects: the 150ha “European Quarter”. With the latest, almost citywide wave of gentrification in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, housing prices have risen by 68%, while the rent level has increased by 4% every year. In striking contrast to its century-long history as an affordable working-class district, the Gallus neighborhood is today facing heavy gentrification pressure, leading to the displacement of low-income households and stark socio-spatial segregation.
Drawing on mixed-methods research and community work in the neighborhood Gallus, we shed light on the lived experiences of the contradictory transformations induced by this urban renewal project. Firstly, we will trace back the processes of state-led gentrification that have changed the Gallus since 1990 from a political economy perspective. Secondly, we present first findings from our ‘applied and critical geography’ in the neighbourhood. By uptaking a critical perspective on gentrification from marginalized experiences , we present insight on how those groups ´losing the game´ of urban regeneration experience and resist the commodification and alienation of their area, proposing to rethink our role as scholars in order to make visible the voices of the marginalized.

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