Geografie 2015, 120, 134-163

Newbuild gentrification, tele-urbanization and urban growth: placing the cities of the post-Communist South in the gentrification debate

Michael Gentile1, Joseph Salukvadze2, David Gogishvili2,3

1University of Helsinki, Department of Geosciences and Geography, Finland
2Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, Department of Human Geography, Tbilisi, Georgia
3Gran Sasso Science Institute, Italy

Received July 2014
Accepted April 2015

This paper explores new-build developments in Tbilisi, Georgia. Based on interviews with developers and with residents and neighbours of new-build developments, we examine the burgeoning of new-build housing projects in a lower middle income post-Communist country. By doing so, we respond to Lees’ (2012) recent call for the exploration of new horizons in gentrification research, which would allow us to transcend the boundaries established by Global-North theorizations – such as those surrounding “new-build gentrification”. While theoretically tantalizing, interpreting the observed developments through this lens, which a superficial observation of the phenomenon might encourage, is not fruitful. Instead, the case of Tbilisi illustrates the need for an appropriate assessment of context: rather than representing a revanchist return to the city of the middle classes, new-builds in Tbilisi appear, largely, to accommodate demographic growth and “deposited” diaspora capital. This, in turn, leads to intense rates of construction despite high vacancy rates – a process which could be viewed as a form of remote-controlled urban growth, or tele-urbanization.


98 live references