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L’alimentation durable, cheval de Troie d’une gentrification urbaine? Le cas du projet TIF

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2:30 PM, Wednesday 31 Aug 2022 (20 minutes)

"We must raise our heads and reveal the richness of our industrial past, which is what we want to do with our food court"; "Let's not forget that the elevators for the Eiffel Tower were built right here! At Fives, we have always innovated: that's what we are still doing today with the communal kitchen"; "This is where the hymn of the Workers' International was created".

These are the words spoken here and there by the promoters of the Tast'in Fives project, which aims to transform a former industrial wasteland of more than 27 hectares_ located in the heart of a working-class neighborhood in eastern Lille _ into a space that promotes sustainable and responsible modes of food consumption. The aim is to reverse the stigma of the social suffering inflicted by the closure of the factory by "revealing" the potential of this long-abandoned site, which has now been transformed into a space where "life is good". In order to make this transition, the operators of the project constantly recall the past of the place, in order, according to them, to "build a bridge between the past and the present". However, behind this objective, which a priori suffers little challenge, lies a political will to transform the neighborhood through three intrinsically linked elements that we would like to highlight in this paper: commercial gentrification (Crieckingen, Chabrol, Fleury, 2014), normalization of public space (Siblot, 2015; Perrin Hérédia, 2019) and residential gentrification (Cary, Delphini, forthcoming). These 3 elements carry with them a central assumption: urban gentrification can use, when it is the result of a top-down political will largely supported by a network of local actors, the backdoor routes of eco-governmentality, sustainability and social bonding, which are all spearheads that are difficult to contest. To put it differently, the promotion of sustainable projects that respect the history of a neighborhood can be the Trojan horse of an urban transformation that excludes certain populations to the benefit of others. This obviously raises a certain number of epistemological issues: How can we identify this gentrification that does not say its name? How can we step back from the stated objectives of the projects in order to identify the other, more muted realities that they underlie?  

This ethnographic investigation, carried out over two years and financed by European funds, is the fruit of a multidisciplinary work for which we carried out several hundred hours of participant observations (public meetings, culinary workshops, meetings in schools to promote the project, etc.), nearly 70 semi-directive interviews with the partners of the project, associations and inhabitants of the district, as well as the analysis of institutional documents.

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