Gentrification or...? Injustice in large-scale residential projects in Hanoi
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofUrban studies
Large-scale residential developments on expropriated lands in periurban Hanoi resemble forms of gentrification seen elsewhere. But is it gentrification? Current debate over the definition of gentrification has focused on whether the term has become too broad to be useful in different institutional and spatiotemporal contexts. While some push for a generalizable definition based in capitalist development, others argue that the term harbors Western assumptions that fail to usefully explain unique local circumstances. The paper first identifies one such conceptual assumption that must be made explicit since it provides the term’s politicizing thrust: displacement generates an experience of social injustice. Then, drawing on surveys and interviews with residents as well as interviews with real estate agents, government officials, and academics conducted in Hanoi between 2013 and 2017, the paper evaluates five types of displacement on the city’s outskirts. Because displacement only occurs in marginal cases and generates limited feelings of social injustice, the term “gentrification” is of little use. Instead, the paper suggests that in a context of rapid urbanization and relatively inclusive economic growth like that of Hanoi the terms “livelihood dispossession” and “value grabbing” may better capture the experience of social injustice and are therefore more likely to generate political traction.