The occupation of Apollo House in Dublin: A case of “occupancy urbanism” in the post-colonial Global North?

Authors: Christian Eichenmüller*, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Institut für Geographie, Carla Maria Kayanan, University of Michigan, Urban and Regional Planning
Topics: Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: creative disctricts, homelessness, occupancy urbanism, Dublin, Apollo House
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: 8201, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

A decade after the spectacular crash of Ireland’s “Celtic Tiger” economy, Dublin’s urban governance institutions have successfully facilitated the transformation of an area of formerly derelict warehouses into an innovation district, the so-called “Silicon Docks”, by now materially and symbolically a key site for Ireland’s post-crisis economic recovery. While the Irish economy has been restructured along the lines of IT sector needs (Kayanan, Eichenmüller, Chambers, 2018), with Ireland attempting to set the pace in digital Europe and Dublin poised to become a major Brexit beneficiary, the city of Dublin is also faced with its largest housing crisis to date. This contradiction received public recognition with the occupation of Apollo House in December 2016. In this paper we ask whether responses to the housing crisis have given rise to an Irish variant of “occupancy urbanism” (Benjamin, 2008), a concept borrowed from debates on cities in the global South, and that might shed light on tactics and strategies of local activists in Dublin. Cognizant of debates around “planetary urbanization” (Brenner & Schmid, 2011) and ontological as well as epistemological difference, we start from the assumption that theory has a geography, without however foreclosing the possibility for the “comparative gesture” (Robinson, 2011). Mindful of the difficult questions arising from translations of theory, we tentatively inquire into how far the logics at work as part of “occupancy urbanism” can also be observed as responses to the housing and homelessness crisis in Dublin.

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