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Maintaining Urban Complexities: Seeking Revitalization without Gentrification of an Industrial Riverfront in Gothenburg, Sweden

Journal article
Authors Gabriella Olshammar
Published in Culture Unbound. Journal of Current Cultural Research
Volume 11
Issue 1
Pages 52-76
ISSN 2000-1525
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Conservation
Pages 52-76
Language en
Keywords Industrial gentrification, urban glue, ends of the world, Gothenburg
Subject categories Other Humanities not elsewhere specified, Ethnology, Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


This article presents case study research performed in a small-scale and centrally located industrial site by the riverfront in Gothenburg, Ringön. It has been highlighted in municipal visions to develop according to its very own circumstances, meaning small-scale and zoned for industrial use. Being closely located to the historic core of the city and surrounded by large construction sites, Ringön has received a lot of attention lately in local newspapers, research, university education and social media. The area is repeatedly pictured as redundant, with some rough potential to become something of a hipster mekka. However, this coverage mostly recognises newcomers from the creative industries and art, while neglecting existing repair-shops and small-scale manufacturing industries. To picture an area as redundant and in need of improvements, exemplifies a feature of gentrification, where extant qualities are seldom appreciated, and where outsiders define the needs to revitalize. The purpose is here to understand and shed light on a diversity of perspectives and interests among Ringön stakeholders, i.e. the insiders, who together affect the development in question. In order to grasp the complexity of the process, I develop a many-faceted narrative in line with Bent Flyvbjerg’s approach to case study research. Meaning-making histories and activities that have come forward in field studies are sorted into eras that are considered lost, still alive, almost lost or recently found. This play of thought is inspired by current discourses on worlds coming to an end, as interpreted by Déborah Danowski and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro. In addition, the concept of “urban glue” from Nigel Thrift is introduced to illustrate how Ringön embodies an era that is certainly still alive.

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