American Univesity of Beirut

Inheritance and Heritage: Considerations for Unified Action against Gentrification in B​eirut​

Working Paper #​49
Dr. Samar Kanafani, Early Career Fellow 2017-2018 - Arab Council for Social Sciences, affiliated with IFI's Social Justice in the City Program
Social Justice and the City program, May 2019

This working paper challenges the alignment of interest that the advocates of “heritage protection” in Beirut presume to have with tenants on rent control against property owners. It argues that while advocates for heritage preservation typically assume that property owners and tenants have radically different positions in the housing market, the two groups may well be in similar conditions, as far as both are threatened by eminent displacement brought about by gentrification. The paper shows that access to affordable housing in the city is the main preoccupation of small propertyowning families who compete – sometimes fiercely – over limited inheritance shares and rent control tenants who use the heritage value of their homes as tactics to contest eviction notices. In the context of the state’s lack of mitigation and mediation of heightening hostility between tenants and owners, urban activism that is interested in advocating for equal rights to the city should draw on this shared threat of displacement among urban dwellers to consolidate its action against gentrification.

Read the full Working Paper​

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