Transnational Gentrification and the Case of Jerusalem’s Second Home Market

Abstract

In this presentation, I will present the Special Issue in Urban Studies, which I am co-editing with my colleague Dr Matthew Hayes on the topic of transnational gentrification and the case study of diaspora Jews’ second homes in Israel and their effects on Jerusalem.

In our introduction piece, Hayes and I argue that the picture of planetary urbanism is incomplete if it neglects the pathways through which mobile flows of capital realize profits, especially in lower income cities, where local demand is insufficient to support urban upgrading. We draw attention to the intersections of increasingly popular transnational lifestyle mobilities and processes of gentrification displacing local populations. We argue that gentrification as a ‘global urban strategy’ increasingly relies upon transnationally mobile migrants and tourists.

I will use the case study of the second home market for diaspora Jews and its effects on Jerusalem to illustrate it. Drawing on fieldwork in the UK and Israel I will argues that while transnational gentrification is economically driven, in the sense of an unequal global division of labour, we need to reinstate the cultural context into the core of gentrification theory and pay more attention to what motivates people to purchase homes in particular foreign locations. I will argue that these motivations can be emotional, and adopt the concept of the ‘real estate as foothold’ – a way of holding onto an emotionally laden space through the acquisition of property. Tying together gentrification and lifestyle migration literatures and using the case study of British Jews with second homes in Israel, I will explore such motivations and connect them with Israel’s political and economic quest to attract diaspora Jews. I will focus on Jerusalem, the Israeli city most affected by the second homes phenomenon, to explore the intersecting outcomes of top-down policies and bottom-up lifestyle demands on the upscaling of the inner-city and the displacement of Israeli residents. Residents’ displacement results in their replacement in cheaper areas, often beyond the ‘Green Line’ in the Occupied Territories, a problematic outcome to any peace negotiations, but one that follows the agenda of municipal and state-level policymakers.

Biography

Dr Hila Zaban is an urban sociologist and anthropologist and a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Sociology Department at the University of Warwick, UK. Her research interests are the links between mobilities (immigration and tourism) and urban transformation. She is looking at how people’s lifestyle mobilities affect cities and communities. Hila’s PhD dissertation was an ethnographic work in a Jerusalem neighbourhood undergoing gentrification processes combined with privileged migration of Jews from Western countries and the physical and cultural effects of these processes. Hila’s current project looks at the urban effects of British Jews’ transnational practices on Israeli cities, focusing on the issue of second home ownership and transnational gentrification – when gentrification forces are external, not local. Hila is also working on another project dealing with displacement in urban renewal projects in the Israeli city Beersheba. She has published her work in top journals in the fields of urban studies and immigration studies.

Venue

Room 320, Steele Building (#03)