Immigration and Gentrification – a case study of cultural restructuring in Flushing, Queens

Weishan Huang

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The aim of this article is to introduce how culture and economics intertwine in urban re-structuring before and after the 1990 recession in New York City by using the case study of Flushing, Queens. My research will bring in a cultural perspective to contribute to the understanding of gentrification as economic, social and cultural restructuring under the impact of international immigration. First, this case of neighbourhood transfiguration was initially triggered by a private immigrant developer, not a cooperation, whose successes were based on factors including Taiwanese immigrants’ residential and housing preferences in the 1980s and 1990s. Ethnic residential preference and cultural tastes are cultural factors which accelerated gentrification during the early 1990s recession. The residential pattern of Asian immigrants in New York has showed the continued concentration of ethnic enclaves since the 1980s. Secondly, there has been diversification in Flushing since the 1980s, which is different from the kind of gentrification which creates a social, economic, and racial hegemony in a neighbourhood. The diversification of races and ethnicities in this neighbourhood has increased since the 1980s through the contribution of post-1965 and later post-Cold War immigrants, especially the settlement of Asian immigrants. We need to distinguish between gentrification that creates homogenous racial or ethnic communities that push immigrants out, and this new form of super-diversity gentrification, based on a transnational flow of capital that fosters diversity and uses diversity as a form of investment capital.

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:

Huang, Weishan. Immigration and Gentrification – a case study of cultural restructuring in Flushing, Queens. Diversities. 2010, vol.12, no. 1, pp. 56-69, UNESCO. ISSN 2079-6595.
www.unesco.org/shs/diversities/vol12/issue1/art4

About the author:

Weishan Huang is a sociologist and a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity. Her work focuses mainly on migrants, ethnic communities and religious movements. Email: HuangW(at)mmg.mpg.de

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