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The University of Pennsylvania, , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Call for Papers: Change Over Time
Gentrification and Heritage Conservation | Fall 2018
Guest Editors: Caroline Cheong and Kecia Fong
The term gentrification is used to describe both a process and outcome of physical, socioeconomic, and demographic neighborhood change. Its association with the displacement of low-income households by wealthier ones has overshadowed more nuanced understandings of the relationship between the historic built environment, conservation, and gentrification. This issue seeks to address this under-examined intersection. According to Rose (2001), neighborhoods with a high likelihood for gentrifying exhibit five key attributes: 1) a high percentage of renters; 2) easy access to the central business district; 3) location within a region of increasing metropolitan density; 4) high architectural value; and 5) relatively low housing values. In this schema, urban conservation is commonly considered to be a precursor to gentrification, particularly in distressed historic areas (Smith 1998; Glaser 2010).
Gentrification drivers span from market trends to government-sponsored initiatives. In a market-led context, undervalued historic neighborhoods contain desirable attributes for incoming households, not least of which is the sense of place and continuity inherent within the historic built environment. In public scenarios, governments explicitly target historic neighborhoods for regeneration. In nearly all cases, existing, usually low or middle income households, face potential displacement. While gentrification has received ample scholarly attention, its occurrence in historic areas – and its interaction with heritage – is less thoroughly documented. This issue interrogates the relationship, past and present, between gentrification and heritage conservation. It does so by exploring questions related to heritage conservation in changing neighborhoods such as: Are historic neighborhoods necessarily targets for gentrification? What are the challenges and opportunities facing these areas, or those that are presently or have already undergone such processes? What other, more inclusive scenarios exist wherein urban conservation serves as a vehicle for neighborhood preservation? How can historians, conservation professionals, planners, and others allow for the concomitant retention of heritage and regeneration values? What variables are required in negotiating this balance? Who are the primary stakeholders and what roles do they play in the process of neighborhood change?