Rethinking estates through squatting. The case of Housing Rights Movements in Rome

Authors: Margherita Grazioli*, Gran Sasso Science Institute
Topics: Human Rights, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: Housing, squatting, estates, Rome
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 6
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The paper dwells upon the ethnographic materials collected by the author during her ongoing activist ethnography (Graeber, 2009; Juris & Kasnabish, 2013) within the Movimento per il Diritto all’Abitare (Housing Rights Movements) in Rome, to illustrate the impact of squatting for housing purposes over a reconceptualisation of the notion (and realisation) of council estates and blocks (Grazioli, 2017). If the dearth of public, decent, affordable accommodation has characterised Rome since its post-IWW planning, scholars like Leontidou (1993, 2010) gauge squatting for housing purposes in Mediterranean cities as a characteristic form of popular mobilisation against the post-2007 crisis austerity urbanism (Peck, 2012; Tonkiss, 2013), from which durable urban social movements and strong welfare demands have derived (see also Squatting Europe Kollective, 2013, 2014). As Housing Rights Movements have become consolidated actors of Rome’s political arena, they have adapted their contentious politics, demands and negotiation tactics to the changing post-crisis scenario. In particular, they target unused urban vacancies, claiming they can be regenerated (De Carli & Frediani, 2016) and upcycled (Coppola, 2012) for residential purposes to tackle the surging housing crisis and demands for public estates. In this way, they act as ‘law-breaking policy-makers’ (Mudu & Aureli, 2017) whereby, through squatting, they materialise a reconceptualisation of public estates that is a rapid, ecologically, economically and socially sustainable alternative to the traditional model. Besides, they reverse the primacy of real-estate and private property towards the de-commodification of housing as a fundamental urban commons (Grazioli & Caciagli, 2018; Stavrides, 2016).

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