Evictions: Toward a Global Urban Sociology of Housing Insecurity

Liza Weinstein, Northeastern University

The study of evictions has recently captured the attention of urban sociologists, who have begun to shed light on the relationships between housing insecurity and the daily experiences and broader logics of poverty both in the US and globally. Scholars writing on the US have recently demonstrated housing insecurity as a contributor to urban poverty, embedded and entwined in a “circle of dispossession,” rather than simply a consequence or side effect of being poor. Others, meanwhile have focused more on the agents of displacement, such as landlords, property managers, and bank agents, to reveal the specific strategies deployed to remove more marginalized or desirable tenants. Yet as scholars conducting research in a global context, and particularly in cities in the Global South, have been research the experience of housing insecurity and contributing insights that may be overlooked in the new U.S.-centric study of evictions. In particular, scholars researching and writing about housing insecurity in cities in Asia, Latin America, and Africa have tended to focus more on evictions as a mass phenomenon, undertaken to clear slum settlements or other communities with tenuous claims to tenure security. In this research, politics and particularly the collective actions enacted to contest these actions have been emphasized more than by scholars writing about evictions and urban poverty in the U.S. This paper aims to recenter the sociological study of evictions by drawing upon recent works centered in cities in the South, and highlighting specific work being done in India and across South Asia. In doing so, it puts the study of evictions in global perspective, asking what a global urban sociology of displacement and dispossession can reveal about the causes, consequences, and responses to the residential precarity that shapes the daily experiences of urban poverty across the planet.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 213. Reconceptualizing Urban Keywords from the Global South