Publication Details

Ihlein, L. M. "Complexity, aesthetics and gentrification: Redfern/WaterlooTour of Beauty." In There Goes the Neighbourhood - Redfern and the Politics of Urban Space. Ed.Z. Begg & K. De Souza. Sydney: Book published in conjunction with the Performance Space exhibition "There Goes the Neighbourhood.", 2009, 46-49.


The question of what kind of city we want cannot be divorced from that of what kind of social ties, relationship to nature, lifestyles, technologies and aesthetic values we desire. The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city. It is, moreover, a common rather than an individual right since this transformation inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power to reshape the processes of urbanization. The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is, I want to argue, one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights - David Harvey, The Right to the City

There Goes the Neighbourhood was the ironic chorus to the 1992 Body Count song which lamented the invasion of the once poor (and Black) into the neighbourhood of the rich (and white). But an alternative destruction of “The Neighbourhood” can happen when the poor get pushed out of their local community as part of the process of gentrification. This issue is particularly relevant for the suburb of Redfern, an inner city suburb of Sydney which has been home for a large working class and Indigenous community, and which is undergoing a process of rapid development and change.

The Block, Redfern, has been described as the "Black Heart" of Australia and occupies a unique place within Sydney's urban landscape as a centre for the Indigenous community. The suburb was once a strong working class neighbourhood and was the starting point for the 1917 general strike for a shorter working week - but in the 1980s the rail yards were closed down and have now been transformed into a new cultural centre, Carriage Works. Redfern grabbed headlines in 2004 after riots erupted when a 17 year old Aboriginal boy died as he was chased by police cars on his push-bike. In that same year the Redfern/Waterloo Authority was established - a special government committee to oversee the rapid development and gentrification of the area. Redfern thus involves a complex, contested and controversial overlapping use of urban space.

Link to publisher version (URL)

There goes the Neighbourhood