Review of Squatting in Europe: Radical Spaces, Urban Struggles by Amy Starecheski, in City journal
Squatting in Europe: Radical Spaces, Urban Struggles is a collection of 10 essays edited by the Squatting Europe Kollective (SqEK). SqEK is a network of activists and scholars that formed in 2009 and has been remarkably productive over the past four years, convening nine gatherings and supporting the development of numerous research projects. This is their first book. SqEK’s organization mirrors that of the movements they study: horizontal and open. Both the SqEK project and this volume have intertwined activist and political aims, and these authors see the production and dissemination of knowledge about squatting as an essential part of their activism. In the service of that goal, the book is available as a free download, but has also been published as a printed volume. SqEK seeks to marshal the power of social scientific academic knowledge production to intervene with authority in current political discourse, and the essays included here largely fit within that frame. Most are written in the third person, and in a neutral, professional tone. While many participants have been involved in squatting and take their inspiration from those experiences, they are also serious researchers who ‘work together in order to develop a thorough, systematic and critical knowledge about this so frequently forgotten social movement’ (273). Much of the research in this volume would not have been possible without the authors’ direct participation in the movements they document, and it is one weakness of the work that the authors do not draw more directly upon their own experiences and personal insights.