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Panel 57. Housing after financialization: responding to debt, decay, and domination


  • Hanna Hilbrandt, University of Zurich,
  • Erandi Barroso, University of Zurich,


For more than 20 years, the financialization of housing has altered the geographies of cities around the globe. From social rental housing to single family units, real estate finance capital has targeted the most impoverished and vulnerable groups (Aalbers, 2017; Fernandez & Aalbers, 2020; Rolnik, 2017). In the aftermath of these developments, their devastating consequences on the material geographies of cities, their social fabric, and the lives of urban communities are readily apparent: The lack or scarcity of infrastructure provision, the dereliction of the housing stock, and the abandonment of homes have gone along with the indebtedness of households through mortgages or rising rents, relations of dependency and domination, as well as the dereliction of neighborhood solidarity, thereby challenging the reproduction of life itself. In this conjuncture, rebuilding homes emerges as one of the key challenges for sustainable urban futures.

Yet while housing and urban scholarship has thoroughly addressed housing financialization through multifaceted processes of exploitation, understanding how actors respond to them requires further research, analysis, and theorization. This session seeks to debate research on urban institutional, activist, and everyday responses to the entangled dynamics of financialization, household debt and domination, on the one hand, and decay, vacancy and ruination, on the other into dialogue across the Global North and South. We are interested in papers that analyze this conjuncture, focusing on a wide array of consequences of and responses to housing financialization and debt crisis at multiple levels of analysis (the body, the household, the neighborhood, etc.) and modes of intervention (everyday practices of care and maintenance, housing policies, activist engagements, etc.). Themes may include, amongst others:

  • Experiences of debt and dependency: the entanglement of energy costs, housing retrofits and debt; the intersection of different types of debt (mortgage, consumer debt, formal/informal); the transformations of social relations through debt at multiple
  • Everyday responses at the level of the household or home, including through practices of repair, care, maintenance, self-management and community organization, or infrastructure
  • Institutionalized responses, for instance through urban policies (e.g., dealing with peripheral urbanization or vacancy), the development of global or national housing finance programs and their impact in households and communities (e.g., microfinance, mortgage debt); disciplining mechanisms that seek to reclaim debt; responses by activist or housing movement; community.
  • Theorizations of debt and reproduction through, e.g., feminist theorizations, political theory; theorizations that bring care, repair, and maintenance into one analytical frame; theorizations of solidarity, responsibility, and reparative justice.

Centro de Estudios de Conflicto y Cohesión Social.

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