"We Came to Change" – Demographic Engineering in the Periphery
Yael Shmaryahu-Yeshurun , firstname.lastname@example.org
Guy Ben-Porat, email@example.com
The government-supported settlement of young student groups in Israel's peripheral development towns was described as a policy for change that would provide weak towns with a strong or "quality" immigration. This research describes the goals and motives of the policy-makers and group members in the towns, and the dynamics that evolved between "locals" and "newcomers." To explain the policy and the dynamic we use two concepts: demographic engineering, and gentrification. The former is a government policy of control of peripheral or border zones, and the latter, a market-based process in which low-income neighborhoods gain popularity. Using these terms, we first describe a process of top-down gentrification in which populations defined by the government as strong, are encouraged to immigrate, in order to strengthen supposedly weak towns. And, second, these concepts enable us to explain the competition over symbolic and material values that evolved, and the resistance and resentment among the local residents. The work is based on sixty interviews conducted with policy makers, local residents, and new residents in the towns of Yeruham and Dimona.