How Gentrification is Symptom of Neo-Colonialism
Gentrification, a dynamic that emerges in poor urban areas when residential shifts, urban planning and other phenomena affect the composition of a neighborhood, is a form of neo-colonialism. In Post-Colonial Studies, the term neo-colonialism describes, among many things, how capital is used for the exploitation rather than for the inclusive development of the less developed parts of the world.
It is gentrification, as a form of neo-colonialism, that I SEE (somewhat imperceptibly, relatively slowly and accepted) happening all over New York City; the place that many consider their home. The same “thing” that I FEEL occurring in the story “House Taken Over” by Julio Cortazar.
In this story, the two characters (who are siblings) live together in their home. One day, the siblings hear noises in the various rooms of the house, and grow frightened and solemn. The noises restrict them to smaller sections in which they can reside. The narrator happily points out that there is less cleaning to do, but regrets that once “they’ve taken over”, neither he or his sister can retrieve their personal belongings. Eventually, the narrator hears “them” take over “our section” and, hurriedly, the siblings leave empty handed, locking the front door and tossing the key into the sewer.
Gentrification of locals
No action taken here, in this story, allowing the house to be taken over. Political action to oppose gentrification has however been some communities’ response against unintended economic eviction. Not enough, though.
Especially as local governments may favor the plan of gentrification because of the increased tax base associated with the new high-income residents, and because of other perceived benefits of moving poor people and rehabilitating deteriorated areas. Just like in Cortazar’s story, we are left wondering. Yet the question should not be where do these people forced to leave their home go, but why do they have to? Albeit gentrification as a form of neo-colonialism is no joke, I HEAR, once again, The Joker’s words echo in my memory as do the footsteps of those forced to leave their home:
“You know what I’ve noticed?
Nobody panics when things go according to plan.
Even if the plan is horrifying!”