Emotional Displacement : Misrecognition, Symbolic Violence, and Loss of Place
Where do the feelings of disgust, fury, anger, frustration, suffocation, and rage expressed by long-time residents in the gentrifying neighborhood of Bushwick (Brooklyn, NYC) come from? What are the structural social relations that instigate these feelings of displacement? And finally, what do these feelings do, and what may be done with them to resist displacement and gentrification? This study contributes to the definition of displacement by focusing on Emotional Displacement, i.e. the intangible, yet vividly experienced, forms of gentrification-led ‘loss of place’. Far from pertaining to the individual psychological sphere, affective and emotional components of displacement speak directly to urban sociological and geographical studies and therefore can critically nuance and complement more traditional class-, race-, and culture-based accounts of gentrification. By combining urban literature on displacement with readings of Sarah Ahmed and Pierre Bourdieu, and drawing on empirical research on Bushwick, I unpack feelings of gentrification-led displacement and then re-embed them into structural power relations. The core argument is that emotional displacement derives from what Bourdieu identified as the 'symbolic violence' of 'misrecognition'. The symbolic violence that comes from misrecognition is not less political or violent than physical displacement, as it is an expression and tool of class- and racial domination.