Abstract: This article analyses a database of 55 squatted social centres in Brighton. By virtue of their public nature, these projects provide a lens through which to examine the local political squatters’ movement, which was often underground, private and hidden (residential squatting in contrast is not profiled). Several relevant non-squatted spaces are also included since they were used as organisational hubs by squatters. The data was gathered from a mixture of participant observation, reference to archive materials, conversations with squatters past and present, academic sources and activist websites. The projects are assessed in turn by time period, duration, type of building occupied and location (by ward). Significant individual projects are described and two boom periods identified, namely the late 1990s and recent years. Reasons for the two peaks in activity are suggested and criticised. It is argued that social centres bloomed in the 1990s as part of the larger anti-globalisation movement and more recently as a tool of resistance against the criminalisation of squatting. Tentative conclusions are reached concerning the cycles, contexts and institutionalisation of the squatters’ movement. It is suggested that the movement exists in ebbs and flows, influenced by factors both internal (such as the small, transitory nature of the milieu) and external (such as frequent evictions). This research feeds into a larger research project (MOVOKEUR) analysing the various squatters’ movement in cities across Western Europe.
The Squatters’ Movement in Europe is the first definitive guide to squatting as an alternative to capitalism. It offers a unique insider’s view on the movement – its ideals, actions and ways of life. At a time of growing crisis in Europe with high unemployment, dwindling social housing and declining living standards, squatting has become an increasingly popular option.
The book is published by Pluto. You can find it on Amazon and at all decent independent bookshops.
ISBN – 9780745333953
The book is written by an activist-scholar collective, whose members have direct experience of squatting: many are still squatters today. There are contributions from the Netherlands, Spain, the USA, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and the UK.
In an age of austerity and precarity this book shows what has been achieved by this resilient social movement, which holds lessons for policy-makers, activists and academics alike.
Introduction – Claudio Cattaneo and Miguel A. Martínez
Box 0.1 – Some Notes about SqEK’s Activist Research Perspective – Miguel A. Martínez
Box 0.2 – SqEK Processes as an Alternative to Capitalism – Claudio Cattaneo, Baptiste Colin, Elisabeth Lorenzi
1: Squatting as a response to social needs, the housing question and the crisis of capitalism, by Miguel A. Martínez and Claudio Cattaneo
Box 1.1 The Environmental Basis of the Political Economy of Squatting
2: The Fallow Lands of the Possible The Life Cycle of Squats in Geneva and Beyond, by Luca Pattaroni
Box 2.1 Anti-Capitalist Communes Remaining Despite Legalisation: The Case of House Projects in Berlin – Lucrezia Lennert
3: The Right to Decent Housing and A Whole Lot More Besides – Examining the Modern English Squatters Movement at its Beginnings and in the Present Day, by E.T.C. Dee
Box 3.1 Criminalisation One Year On – Needle Collective
4: The Power of the Magic Key. Scalability of squatting in the Netherlands and the US, by Hans Pruijt
Box 4.1 Provo – Alan Smart
Box 4.2 My Personal Experience as a NYC Neighbour – Frank Morales
5: Ogni sfratto sarà una barricata: squatting for housing and social conflict in Rome, by Pierpaolo Mudu
Box 5.1 The French Housing Movement: Squatting as a Mode of Action Among Other Tools – Thomas Aguilera
6: Squats in urban ecosystems: overcoming the social and ecological catastrophes of the capitalist city, by Salvatore Engels di Mauro and Claudio Cattaneo
7: Squatting and Diversity – Gender and Patriarchy: In Berlin, Madrid and Barcelona, by Azozomox
Box 7.1 Some Examples of the Great Variety and Diversity within the Berlin Squatting Environment
8: Unavoidable Dilemmas: Squatters dealing with the Law, by Miguel A. Martínez, Azozomox and Javier Gil
Box 8.1 The Interaction between Spheres of Morality and of Legality – Claudio Cattaneo
Box 8.2 ‘Your Laws are Not Ours’: Squatting in Amsterdam – Deanna Dadusc
Conclusions – Miguel A. Martínez and Claudio Cattaneo
Appendix: The story of SqEK and the production process of this book, by Claudio Cattaneo, Baptiste Colin and Elisabeth Lorenzi