Single mothers and the horror of gentrification

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The paper contributes to the discourse of fear in the city, through content analysis of the horror genre. Using Walter Salles' 2005 film Dark Water, the paper looks into the gendered implication of urban gentrification and the enforced relocation of different people in the city. The paper highlights the parallel narratives of the discourse on the gentrification of New York's Roosevelt Island and the film and shows how fear becomes the link between the cinematic and the everyday. Looking into the media discourse and the reaction of the residents to the film, the paper remaps the city, based on the way intertextual memory defines the image of the city both on a local and global level. The film raises questions of what is considered to be the city (Manhattan) and the periphery for the ‘others’ (Roosevelt Island). Within this framework, the paper argues that the horrors in Dark Water bring light to the unseen struggles of marginalised groups who are forced to co-exist and focus. The main character sees her status alter as she goes through a painful divorce, which leads to her exclusion from the neoliberal city, and her losing any right to the city. The metaphysical evil of a ghost in the film is a horror convention, but visual analysis of the film in relation to the cinematic urban context showcases the actual terror of surviving as a single mother in a global metropolis.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2021
EventInternational Visual Sociology Association 2021: Visualising Social Changes: Seen and Unseen - Virtual Conference, Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 5 Jul 20218 Jul 2021


ConferenceInternational Visual Sociology Association 2021
Abbreviated titleIVSA2021
Internet address


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