The British Sociological Association Cities and Mobilities group are running the following walking tour as part of their 2019 annual conference programme. The walk is free but booking is essential. You can book here.
Partick is a formerly industrial and traditionally working-class neighbourhood, straddled bythe Glasgow Harbour, an urban regeneration development of former shipyards, docks, and granaries on the banks of the River Clyde,and Glasgow’s affluent West End. The study, in collaboration with local anti-poverty charity WestGAP, explored the complex role of gentrification in urban regeneration processes in post-industrial neighbourhoods and how class restructuring and urban restructuring processes are intimately interlinked, all from the perspective of the working class, an oft overlooked perspective in gentrification studies.
On this walk Kirsteen will reanimate the stories from local Partick residents as they negotiated gentrification in their neighbourhood, walking through and seeing gentrification as it was lived with. The walk will also be an active research enquiry to observe the changes which have since taken place in the neighbourhood and see the long shadow cast by not only the Glasgow Harbour development, but the financial crisis and austerity which stalled further gentrification and retracted welfare protections even further.
The walk will take no more than 2 hours, returning to the conference for lunch time, and involve travel via subway to Partick (not wheelchair accessible). To discuss a wheelchair accessible meeting point or access on the route please contact email@example.com.
We are delighted to confirm that the BSA Cities, Mobilities, Place and Space Plenary at the BSA annual conference will be given by Les Back, Charlynne Bryan and Shamser Sinha. This takes place on Thursday 25thApril in Room W622, at 9.30am.
In this session Professor Les Back and Dr Shamser Sinha reflect with participant author Charlynne Bryan on the writing of their book Migrant City (Routledge 2018). A ten-year study of the migrant experience in London, the book operates within model of sociable sociology where dialogue with participants is followed through to analysis and authorship. The session will explore the critique of anti-immigrant times that emerged through the project and also a reflection on the methodological issues its raises and its experiment with a different mode of authorship.
Les Back teaches sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. His work attempts to create a sensuous or live sociology committed to searching for new modes of sociological writing and representation. This approach is outlined in his book The Art of Listening (Berg 2007) and the co-authored bookMigrant City(Routledge, 2018), which attempts to extend this approach in a more collaborative direction. He also writes journalism and has made documentary films.
Charlynne Bryan is a primary school teacher and a poet at heart. She has recently published a book of poetry titled ‘Dear fat girl: you are not broken‘ which explores the topic of self-acceptance, hope, rising above the odds and being great! Charlynne is an avid creative who also runs poetry workshops that occasionally combines poetry and art, where people explore how their lives are shaped by their experiences. Dear fat girl is available to purchase on Amazon.
Shamser Sinha is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Youth Studies at the University of Suffolk. His research and teaching interests circle around; ‘race’ and racism; youth; and different ways of doing ethnography. He has done lots of work with unaccompanied and separated young people seeking asylum. His epistemological and methodological work explores how researchers can widen their insight beyond the questions we think of asking participants by inviting them in to the collection, analysis and production of outputs. He is also a professional playwright outside of his university work.
The call for abstracts for the BSA annual conference 2019 (Caledonian University- Challenging Social Hierarchies and Inequalities) is now open for submissions.
We would like to encourage you to submit your abstracts to the Cities, Mobilities, Spaces and Places stream.
While considering any abstract that relates to our stream, we would be particularly interested in submissions on the following themes:
– challenging social hierarchies and inequalities in and across places and spaces
– innovative methodological approaches to space, place and mobilities
– housing financialisation and austerity urbanism
– dynamics of race, gender, class, sexuality, disability and space/place
– gentrification, displacement, evictions, homelessness
– mobilities and fixities
– methods for studying space, place and mobilities
– activist urban/mobilities research
– urban governance and the state
We’d also like to encourage people to consider submitting grouped sessions on a theme (submit under special event- and do bear in mind this has to fit into a 1.5 hour slot). And we especially encourage papers or sessions which focus on issues related to the host city, Glasgow and alternative histories and narratives of the city.
This is by no means exhaustive. We also welcome suggestions which include alternative modes of presentation such as film, audio, maps etc…
The deadline for special events is October 5th and for abstracts October 12th.
We look forward to reading your submissions!
Please note all submissions should be submitted via the BSA website
Our second BSA Cities and Mobilities workshop promotes and shares ideas around the creative, critical and responsive use of methods in urban research. Inspired by the call to cultivate a DIY spirit in our research practice, the workshop will explore how we can develop liveliness in our methods through making use of new technological opportunities and through the re-imagining of older techniques. Across a series of discussions on approaching cities through different kinds of methods – mapping, listening, creative writing – we consider how urban research can respond to a changing political and social context, including austerity and emergent and old forms of racism, alongside new forms of vernacular cultures and forms of dissent. We will discuss the temporalities of research, relationships of production and co-production and the kinds of interventions we seek to make. We hope that the format of the day – based on the pairing of researchers – will help to produce new discussions and open ongoing dialogues.
Time and Location: University of Liverpool, Management School, 9.30-5.30pm, Tuesday 11th September 2018.
Organisers: Kirsteen Paton (University of Liverpool) Emma Jackson (Goldsmiths)
Luke de Noronha – “Deportation Discs”: reflections on listening to, recording, and sharing deportation stories.
Jacqueline Waldock – Listening to change, exploring the shifting sound cultures of regeneration.
1.15pm -3.15pm Walk
3.15pm- 4.30pm Creative Writing as Method
Thandi Loewensen – Not yet, now now: Excavating a space ship from the Lusaka city dump site
Ruth Raynor – Speaking , feeling, mattering:Theatre as method and model for co-produced research
4.30-5pm Closing discussion
Abstracts and resources
Camilla Lewis and Monica Degen
Mapping the diversities of Gentrification: analysing Smithfield Market using sensory and temporal perspectives
This paper provides a sensory and temporal analysis of urban change in and around the Smithfield Market area, the largest wholesale meat market in Britain. Located within the Square Mile of the City of London, this area has recently been included as part of the ‘Culture Mile’, the City’s largest regeneration project in a decade. The derelict west side of the market is being transformed into the site for the new Museum of London, a new Crossrail transport hub is due to open next year and the area is increasingly promoted as a cultural destination for families and tourists.
Analyses of gentrification have already shown how the effects of urban change vary in specific places and how gentrification plays out differently across the globe. Here, we follow Lees’ (2000) suggestion to focus on temporality in order to problematize the notion of gentrification as a uniform and coherent process within one locality. Instead, examining the lived, everyday experiences and practices of the diverse social groups using Smithfield Market, we explore how at times overlapping, at other times contrasting sensory atmospheres and temporal patterns produce uneven expressions of gentrification. In particular, we reflect on why the multi-methods approach used in the study which included ethnography, interviews, oral histories, walkalongs and various analogue and digital mapping techniques were necessary to investigate the interactions between past, present and future sensory identities of the area. The study reveals how gentrification fluctuates in intensity in different places and at different times, constituting a multiplicity of place identities and producing variable forms of belonging and exclusion. The paper suggests that urban research can respond to a changing political and social context by drawing attention to new forms of vernacular cultures emerging in cities using mapping methods which demonstrate the sensory and temporal character of urban change.
Remapping Manchester: Walking Desire Lines and Power Chords
Drawing a line on a map is act of power. This paper explores how that power can be reclaimed by discussing DIY, activist and artist mapping practices. There will be a particular focus on psychogeographical techniques which use walking as a way to engage with, and affectively remap, urban space. It will draw on fieldnotes from twelve years of wandering and wondering with The Loiterers Resistance Movement (LRM), a Manchester based psychogeographical collective. Part of The LRM manifesto states
“Gentrification, advertising and blandness make us sad. We believe there is magic in the mancunian rain. Our city is wonderful and made for more than shopping. The streets belong to everyone and we want to reclaim them for play and revolutionary fun. ….The LRM embark on psychogeographical drifts to decode the palimpsest of the streets, uncover hidden histories and discover the extraordinary in the mundane”.
The psychogeographical derive – or drift – reconfigures walking as a political and creative act. This micro-level, DIY action presents many challenges and opportunities for exploring the city. For The LRM it is a convivial, playful way to work which aims to blur the boundaries between activism, art and academia and you are warmly invite to join us on an expedition as we take theory onto the streets.
“Deportation Discs”: reflections on listening to, recording, and sharing deportation stories.
How do we tell the stories of people who have been banished from the UK? How might we tell different stories about ‘foreigners’, ‘criminals’ and ‘bad migrants’, stories which humanise and complicate? Sometimes just hearing someone’s voice, their British accent and their familiar points of reference, tells us more than the best writing can. So much is lost in the process of transcription, and it is important to bring the voice, intonation, expression, the noise into the telling of research. “Deportation Discs” was one attempt to tell deportation stories differently, through music and memory. Mimicking the format of Desert Island Discs was both apposite and unsettling. In this talk, I reflect on “Deportation Discs” and situate it within my larger research methodology. In particular, I question the ongoing ethical questions and risks when sharing intimate portraiture like this. Who is this podcast for? How do my interlocutors and I relate to the project differently? And how might this way of telling might contribute to the interventions I (we?) hope to make? “Deportation Discs” was one attempt to show people who have been subject to the most extraordinary state violence, to give them space to share their remembering. In this talk, I reflect on some of the limitations of this project, discuss how the podcast relates to my broader intellectual concerns, and finally, and most importantly, I question what the anti-racist utility of “Deportation Discs” might be.
Listening to change, exploring the shifting sound cultures of regeneration.
The paper will highlight how conflicting sounds and sound cultures are compounded by the regeneration process. The work will explore a multi-faceted approach to understanding sound in areas of urban regeneration where local residents were engaged in: recording, listening, re-listening, editing and critiquing their sound spaces at a time of significant change. This practice of partnering with local residents provided valuable insights into how regeneration can disrupt communities and radically transform their listening of sonic space. I will also discuss how partnering process also contributed in supporting the agency of residents to inscribe their presence in a multiplicity of ways, in a shifting environment of conflict.
Waldock, J. “Crossing the Boundaries: Community Composition and Sensory Ethnography” Senses and Society Journal, Berg. 2016
Waldock, J. “Hearing Urban Change” in Black L. and Bull, M.(eds.) Auditory Cultural Reader, 2nd revised edition, Bloomsbury Press. pp 151-161 2015
Not yet, now now: Excavating a space ship from the Lusaka city dump site
On 24 October 1964, Zambia gained independence from the United Kingdom. In Lusaka, thousands of people gathered at the newly built Independence Stadium for Dr Kaunda’s inauguration, chanting ‘kwatcha’, the Nyanja word for dawn. Had UNESCO responded to funding requests from one of the country’s most ingenious freedom fighters, Edward Festus Mukuka Nkoloso, the day would also have been marked by a rocket launch to Mars and the start of the Zambian Space Program. Nkoloso and his Space Program, with its accompanying Academy of Sciences and Space Technology, were pilloried in the Western media; Zambians couldn’t possibly have ambitions that high, not yet. Exactly what happened to the Program in the years that followed is unclear. This paper reveals the search for Nkoloso’s space ship, and poses questions about the potential of an architectural practice which operates on the fringe of the real – through drawings, props, costume and performance – to engage disenfranchised communities with policy makers in imagining urban futures.
The search begins at the rumoured former testing site of the program – the Lusaka city dump – where a lingering tender process threatens to privatise the site any day, now now. Here, a fictional city called Mailo – a parallel and possible version of Lusaka, past and present, made Weird – has been conjured through which to conduct our investigation. Through the staging and performance of scenes and characters from Mailo, together with the Chunga Waste Recycler’s Association and the Lusaka City Council, we set out to excavate what pieces of the space ship might remain, and how exhuming and performing scenes from a forgotten history reimagined, might reshape how we think of the potential of the city today.
Speaking, feeling, mattering: Theatre as a method and a model for coproduced research
A group of women in the North East of England; all mothers, all out of paid work or in low waged temporary employment; women getting on and getting by amidst austerity. All attended a family support service that was threatened (and eventually lost) to local authority budget cuts. Over two years we made a theatre play together. This enabled us to explore precarious conditions in and beyond austerity, amongst other things. The result was a grounded but fictional narrative (albeit a story that ‘falls apart’). We made efforts to hold onto the singularity of women and characters, which would become more than a position (‘economically inactive’) in a region (the North-East of England) and a climate (of austerity). Staying with these excesses, in this short piece, I reflect on the theatre-making workshops. In particular I focus on in-depth and well-justified relationships between forms of practice and the spatial ways of knowing they engage; the surfacing of otherwise background conditions for critique and intervention; and relations between doing and thinking, as well as collaborating partners, to show how this method opened a field of possibilities.
We are delighted that our plenary at the BSA conference this year will be given by Professor Anoop Nayak . The plenary takes place on Tuesday 11th April at 17.15pm, Room 002, CCE.
Anoop Nayak is Professor in Social and Cultural Geography at Newcastle University. He is author of Race, Place and Globalization: Youth Cultures in a Changing World, co-author with Mary Jane Kehily of Gender, Youth and Culture: Global Masculinities and Femininities, and co-author with Alex Jeffrey of a social theory book on the spatial relations of power, Geographical Thought.
White Lines: Young People, Diversity and Belonging in a ‘Post-Brexit’ Age
Abstract: This paper focuses upon young people and everyday forms of belonging in ‘post-Brexit’ Britain. It is argued that sociological ideas surrounding superdiversity and everyday multiculturalism need to be recalibrated in light of the marked divisions and unspoken feelings that have come to underpin Brexit. The study seeks to engage with the social forms of stratification that exist in ‘left behind’ places and the feelings of attachment and alienation found in the post-industrial localities of Sunderland. Drawing upon mobile methods and urban ethnography with young people I explore the relationship between race, place and social class and how these are composed through feelings, events and happenings. Critical to this is the diversity of youth experiences and the ways in which white lines of territoriality are composed and reconfigured in the local landscape.
Plenary lecture for BSA 2017, Cities, Mobilities, Space and Place Stream
‘If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very word “citizenship” means.’ Theresa May, 15th October 2016.
‘If you fail to make a voluntary departure, a separate decision may be made at a later date to enforce your removal.’ British Home Office Rejection of Residency Letter, 2017.
Since the Brexit referendum result on June 23rd 2016, newspapers have been filled with stories about EU nationals who are long term residents of the UK, often married to and parents of UK citizens, and who, on application for citizenship, have been told to leave the country. These newspaper stories have tended to feature middle-class EU nationals and are often written from a position of unchecked privilege, in seeming disbelief that (white) Europeans might be (or become) subject to Britain’s deeply illiberal immigration regime; the same racist “detention and deportation factory”, that has terrorized, incarcerated and ejected black, brown, non-European bodies for decades. Nevertheless, the extension of these punitive regimes to EU residents vividly illustrates the extent to which, ‘Brexit means Brexit means go home’ (Piacentini 2016). If the fate of the estimated 800,000 EU citizens in Britain remains uncertain, what we can say with certainty is that Brexit marks the emergence of a more authoritarian, nationalistic form of government in Britain. We are beginning to find out precisely what citizenship means, as Theresa May put it. One of the central characteristics of post-Brexit Britain is the ‘ever-intensifying magnitude of deportation’ as a practice of sovereign power (Peutz and De Genova, 2010: 7). As a mechanism of government, deportation functions symbolically as a “tough” demonstration of sovereignty, and is used in policy as a means of crafting politically useful divisions between citizens and non-citizens. Crucially, deportation doesn’t seek only to redistribute people along the lines of citizenship to allotted national spaces; indeed, its primary aim has been to make people deportable in order, for example, to better incorporate them within the state as placid, exploitable and precarious labour (see De Genova 2010). Deportation also functions to demarcate the limits of state protection, and is employed as a threat and warning in order to manage citizens “at home”. Indeed, as this paper details, deportation regimes are as involved in the production of “disposable subjects” within the state as with the policing of migrant lives.
This paper develops and extends insights from the critical literature on deportation regimes to consider the emerging landscape of post-Brexit British Society. It focuses throughout on Theresa May, and what her promotion from deportation-enthusiast Home Secretary to ‘Protectionist’ Brexit Prime-Minister signals, in terms of the increasing centrality of deportability as a mode of government and mechanism of social control over both citizen and non-citizen populations. It is the argument of this paper that thinking with and through deportation can further sociologists’ understanding of the relationship between the precarity of migrant lives and the intensification of ‘legalised expulsions’ “at home” (Walters, 2002). To this end, it tracks the relationship between deportability and ‘disposability’ (see Khanna, 2009) by examining how ‘post-welfare’ policies increasingly involve internal displacements and expulsions: from state-led practices of gentrification which expel social housing tenants from affluent cities, to punitive welfare-regimes which immobilise disabled peoples within their homes (Peck, 2009). By emphasizing the dual axis of deportability and disposability this paper seeks to address the intertwined classed and racialized character of emergent authoritarian neoliberal state forms.
We are really pleased to be putting on a walking tour as a fringe event at this year’s annual BSA conference. The tour will be led by Dr Steve Hanson. You can book your free place here.
This tour will take in sites described by Friedrich Engels in Condition of the Working Class in England and in his letters to Marx and others, the site of the Old Town slums for instance. It will also include a visit to the Marx desk in Chetham’s Library. Marx and Engels spent time here over two summers, separated by some years. We know which books they got out, one or two items of which are very interesting.
This is also where John Dee supposedly conjured the devil… This tour, then, will explore some of the weirder histories of the city too, for instance the Manchester Area Psychogeographic attempt to levitate The Corn Exchange, not long before the 1996 IRA bomb transformed it forever.
The Peterloo Massacre will be explored, as will the former Free Trade Hall site, where Suffrage speeches were made. But this is also where Bob Dylan played the famous ‘Judas’ gig, and The Sex Pistols played a concert here that was very important to a whole generation of Manchester musicians.
This tour will also include, but by no means be restricted to: Tony Wilson’s 24 hour public wake; Shaker Mother Ann Lee and Roman gold found in the Irwell.
This is a city of myth and concrete in equal measure.
Note about participation: This tour is a fringe event that coincides with The British Sociological Association conference but you don’t have to be attending the conference, or a sociologist, to attend. If you are attending the conference please note that the walk will overlap wth the afternoon plenary but you will be back in time for the afternoon stream sessions.
This workshop aims to promote dialogue and the sharing of ideas about the creative, critical and responsive use of methods in urban research. Taking inspiration from the call to cultivate a DIY ethos in our research practice, the workshop will explore how we can develop liveliness in our methods through making use of new technological opportunities and through the re-imagining of older techniques. Across a series of discussions on approaching cities through different kinds of methods – mapping, making, working with archives, walking – we will consider how urban research can respond to a changing political and social context, including austerity and emergent and old forms of racism, alongside new forms of vernacular cultures and forms of dissent. We will discuss the temporalities of research, relationships of production and co-production and the kinds of interventions we seek to make. We hope that the format of the day – based on the pairing of researchers – will help to produce new discussions and open ongoing dialogues.
9.30-9.45 Welcome and introduction: Thinking on our feet
Marchers and Steppers: Memory, City Life and Walking
This session focuses on the challenges of how to write urban history on the move. The place of proximity but also returning in interpreting the cultural life of cities. It is set in Lewisham, south London. In this impoverished and uncelebrated south eastern corner of the Capital young black people forged a culture of resistance and joy in unlikely places from church halls to youth clubs to municipal buildings. The massive Hi Fis that were strung up in those often inhospitable locations refurnished their meaning through sound. We will take a stroll through this landscape to tell a postcolonial history of racism and resistance in south London including the UK translation of reggae music, the people who made it and places where it was listened to. We will visit the ruins of Jah Shaka’s culture shop on New Cross Road, the place where the National Front was confronted and stopped in their tracks in 1977, and the site of the New Cross Fire that killed 13 young black Londoners in 1981 who had been attending a house party. Through a combination of autobiography and historical reportage this session takes the form of a guided walk through the surrounding areas of Goldsmiths visiting some of the iconic sites of this history as well as hearing the echoes of this music – known as steppers – that carries a legacy of pain, violence, joy, creativity and affirmation.
Unpacking the (de)mortgaging of life in the Barcelona metropolitan region
This paper considers the methodological approach and experience behind understanding the way that life was mortgaged during a housing boom, and collective urban struggles to liberate people from mortgage debt – that is, to demortgage life – in times of crisis. With a focus on the Barcelona metropolitan region as a case study, and the Barcelona and Sabadell branches of the housing movement the Platform of Mortgage Affected People (PAH) as situated sources of knowledge, I will elaborate my engaged ethnographic approach. Reflections will be made on the research process and the challenges and dilemmas faced in attempting to grasp the lived experience and political subjectivation of (formerly) mortgaged homeowners. I will also address my struggles with the tensions inherent in activist research, namely between the commitment to and participation in daily struggles for survival and broader transformation, and critical scholarly production.
Title: Mapping ‘decant’: visualising displacement in council estate regeneration
The redevelopment of council estates has long been presented as the preferred regeneration option for inner city neighbourhoods. With demolition and rebuilding, existing tenants and leaseholders have to endure the uncertainty of temporary or permanent rehousing through a process called ‘decanting’, often at great personal cost. Critical urban scholars have called attention to this process and argued that the direct displacement of low-income residents from a given neighbourhood is an indication of the negative social impact of urban regeneration schemes, and provides clear evidence of state-led gentrification. The aim of this presentation is to reflect on the methodological and analytical issues that arise when researching, visualising and disseminating data on the enforced displacement of residents through council estate demolition. Building on a collaborative long-term action-research project in Southwark, South London, and particularly on the case of the Heygate Estate, it discusses strengths and weaknesses of GIS data visualisation and raises questions about the politics of representation through mapping, the nature of displacement evidence and the potential political agency of maps in the context of the current housing crisis in London.
Southwark Notes Archives Group (2014) Heygate Estate Leaseholders’ Displacement Map.
Wearing the Archive: mobility clothing, the sewing machine and the researcher’s body
This paper considers clothing as a technology of mobility. Drawing on archival materials, patents and science and technology studies, I argue that clothing is a critical means through which different bodies are made to ‘fit’, both physically and ideologically, with changing ideas about being in and moving through public space. I focus specifically on one type of mobility clothing – cycle wear – as it was imagined, made and worn at the turn of last century. Women were enthusiastic early adopters of cycling, and yet contemporary fashion, together with society’s ideas about conventional feminine mobility limited their freedom of movement. This is the story of how many of them responded through their clothing, by inventing new ways of making their bodies adapt and fit with changing socio-technical conditions.Methodologically, the project involved sewing and wearing ‘convertible’ Victorian cycle costumes, inspired by 120year old clothing patents lodged by inventive women. I discuss what happens when cycling, sewing and sociology collide. What emerges from making garments that differs from analysing paper documents? What can we learn from wearing the archive?
Research at the Intersection of Archives and Cities: Using Activist Archives in the Study of Urban Struggles
Archives are key sites in which to understand configurations of power in the city. They document city life and processes of social change. Yet, archives are not neutral repositories, and different archives, and different approaches to the archive, affect the stories that are told about the city. While most urban research draws from public archives, in this presentation I look to autonomous archives that emerged around anti-gentrification campaigns, in order to explore alternative views of urban struggles. I outline discursive and ethnographic approaches to activist archives, drawing on case studies of anti-gentrification campaigns from Vancouver (Canada) and London (UK). These two methodological approaches enable archives to be considered simultaneously as source material for history production and as spaces of practice. Woven through the discussion of the two case studies is an exploration of the politics of knowledge production as it intersects the study of the city and the archive.
The following related articles can be downloaded here
‘Radicalizing the Politics of the archive: Reading an Activist Archive’, Archivaria 80 (Fall, 2015): 33-57.
‘Mobilizing Urban Publics, Imagining Democratic Possibilities: Reading the Politics of Urban Redevelopment in Discourses of Gentrification and Revitalization’ Cultural Studies 28 (1,2014): 29-48.
‘Autonomous Archives’ International Journal of Heritage Studies 16 (4, 2010); 255-268.
Mapping transgression/gentrification: Lights of Soho
We are a recently formed interdisciplinary collective that are seeking to document and map marginal or transgressive urban spaces. Our current project focuses on mapping London’s Soho, using multisensory approaches and with a particular interdisciplinary methodology that we have developed. We are hoping to understand how current neo-liberal market forces are changing Soho, and what impact this is having both on a Soho as a physical geographically-bound place, but also as a social and cultural space. This paper will present one of our sensory maps – one that maps neon lights in Soho. As in other red light districts in other cities, neon lights are a distinctive aesthetic feature. While some argue that neon lights are empty signifiers of projected fantasies and desires (Begout, 2002), we maintain that they have particular significance for Soho. In this area, significations of neon lights reveal a critical aspect of gentrification processes – as many of the older shops/venues (particularly sex shops) use neon, but newer venues (restaurants and bars) use the same neon ironically, creating a juxtaposition that is literally illuminated. Indeed, a new exhibit (open 2015) called Lights of Soho (c.f. Mullen, 2015) has revealed the contentiousness of lights in this space. This paper will present photographs and a map of different neon lights, and explore how lights in Soho are working to signify processes of gentrification that we are argue serve to exclude many of the ‘transgressive’ spaces, places and people (specifically sex shops and sex workers) who make up part of the social fabric of the area.