‘Now the German comes’ : The ethnic effect of gentrification in Berlin

‘Now the German comes’ : The ethnic effect of gentrification in Berlin

Publication Type:
article-journal
Date Issued:
2020
Authors:
Defne Kadıoğlu Polat
Publisher:
Sage Publications
Language:
eng
Page:
155-176
DOI:
10.1177/1468796818810007
Abstract:

Compared to the United States, the relationship between ethnicity and gentrification is still understudied in the Western European context. However, while Western Europe does not have the same racial history as the United States, ethnic and racial divisions are still expressed through urban inequality. This paper, a study of small-business owners in an ethnically stigmatized Berlin neighborhood, shows how the gentrification process leads to the revelation and reification of ethnic boundaries between Turkish immigrants and their descendants and the so-called German majority society. It firstly finds that gentrification by Turkish-origin business owners is frequently understood as an ethnic remake that leads to the displacement of Turkish immigrants and their families in favor of non-immigrant Germans. The gentrification process is accordingly perceived, not only as a form of material dispossession, but also as a form of cultural dispossession in which the multicultural character of the quarter is erased. Second, the paper postulates that, in cases in which Turkish immigrant entrepreneurs adapt their businesses to the demands of new middle-class consumers, they tend to exclude the lower-income population in the quarter whom they mainly define as Turkish or Arabic. All in all, the debate presented in this paper shows how, in the German context, gentrification relates to prior forms of ethnic prejudice, discrimination and racism. It thereby also complicates the prominent discussion on the nexus between gentrification and displacement by showing that, even if long-time residents are not immediately threatened with having to leave, they still experience forms of exclusion that are entrenched with already existing structural inequalities.

Keywords:
Gentrification ethnicity small-business owners ethnic boundaries Turkish immigrants Germany Berlin discrimination exclusion racism