The Ethnography Working Group is pleased to present:
Yewon Lee (UCLA)- "Rights to the City of the Property-less: The Case of South Korea’s Commercial Tenants’ Resistance"
Abstract: This research examines an experiment with tapping into a new base of urban constituents to contest the process of gentrification. I conduct ethnographic research on a major organization that has begun mobilizing commercial tenants in South Korea against displacement from their places of business. Contrary to conventional anti-gentrification resistance by the urban poor, the new anti-gentrification camp encompasses members from a broad range of socioeconomic classes—stretching from tenants running old corner shops to art galleries. By analyzing how the commercial tenants frame their right to the city, I examine how the precarity stemming from lacking ownership to the property on which their livelihoods depend can become a locus of social change. However, I also find that certain framing strategies can have exclusionary effects on members with fewer resources. This study contributes to the right to the city literature by examining the potential for recruiting alternative actors into anti-gentrification movements.