The story of property: Meditations on gentrification, renaming, and possibility.

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    • Abstract:
      Property is a story. We assign land and resources legal status, and we narrate this as ownership and power. The interlocking loans, credit, and debt from which housing markets are compiled are built through narratives about value and its origins. The urban landscape, which is made by those markets, is produced through a confluence of human decisions, made with information about conditions and access. This information is based in stories—stories about what will sell, whether risk is viable, and what constitutes risk itself. These interlocking stories produce processes such as gentrification, one of the key contemporary challenges of booming cities in the Global North. Stories about the value of property, the primacy of growth, the role of race in valuation, and the urgency to invest in the urban landscape all shape gentrification. Meanwhile, stories from below have power too, offering important reframing. This paper examines two gentrifying neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area, analyzes the role of narrative in framing urban change there, and identifies counter-narratives that offer tangible alternatives with the potential to drive decisions around urban development. In sum, this paper foregrounds the role of narrative and storytelling in defining the economic forces such as property that shape urban places. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
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