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Creating Hackney as Home: Youth Perspectives on Gentrification in London

Discourses of place are implicated in the urban regeneration strategies of government authorities that attempt to shift representations from those of poverty and disorder to creative, “cosmopolitan” living. Young people have had a particular role to play in this process, at times becoming part of the discourse of dysfunction in a portrayal of both disorder and risk, their presence on the street needing to be managed by particular forms of urban planning. In this presentation I will argue that a more polysemous account of urban transformation is needed to understand young people’s diverse attachments to place and the politics of representation that they engage in to manage positions of inequality. Using participatory filmmaking, five young people from the east London Borough of Hackney reimagined their place in their neighbourhood, challenging discourses of both degeneration and gentrification. While separately the films provide subjective imaginations of Hackney, entangled they generate narratives of contradiction, loss, synchronicity, and mobility that present a more complex picture of Hackney as home.