Visualising Gentrification in Ancoats, Manchester: A Multi Method Approach to Mapping Change

Bratchford, Gary (2020) Visualising Gentrification in Ancoats, Manchester: A Multi Method Approach to Mapping Change. In: Gentrification around the World: Gentrifiers and the Displaced. Palgrave Studies in Urban Anthropology, 1 . Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 141-171. ISBN 978-3-030-41337-8

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This chapter explores how we can come to see global gentrification through a variety of visual processes, including visual ethnography, social and spatial semiotics, and image analysis of developer hoardings, which in turn, can be read through a series of communicative ‘scenes’ (Silver et al. 2011). Focusing on two areas of Manchester (UK), Ancoats and the neighboring district, Miles Platting, the chapter begins by setting the conceptual framework and aims of the study. Thereafter, the chapter unpacks the history of East Manchester’s industrial decline and subsequent ‘regeneration’, having been awarded host status of the 2002 Commonwealth Games. The chapter explores the ‘partnership mode of governance’ with specific attention paid to the public and private sector developments which promised ‘seamless tenure’ that ‘celebrated variety and identity’.1 Through researcher-produced imagery and fieldwork, the chapters unpacks how Ancoats has been, and Miles Platting is, subject to a process of middle-class restructuring through production (Smith and Williams 1986) and consumption (Ley 1996; Massey 2005; Milestone2008) based gentrification. In particular, this chapter looks at New Islington including the Ancoats Marina and Cutting Room Square, all of which exist in a 0.5-mile radius, close to the North Eastern edge of Manchester. In part, this chapter is also about the optics of visibility, the battle over perceptibility and the ways in which gentrified space can be interrupted (Jordan and Linder 2016), specifically through socially engaged visual practices and the ‘deglamorizing effect’ that blogs and social media can have upon a development project when looked in upon by outsiders. By foregrounding researcher-produced imagery to narrate the physical and cultural change of the landscape in addition to the analysis of visual works produced by others, professional or otherwise, the essays final aim is to continue to normalize the use of visual imagery as a valid and relevant type of data for sociological research (Nathansohn and Zuev 2013).

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