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The politics of embodied urban precarity: Roma people and the fight for housing in Bucharest, Romania

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Abstract

The paper provides a nuanced reading of the ways in which conditions of precarity arising from forced evictions are ‘made’ and ‘unmade’ in their unfolding, offering a way to appreciate their performative politics. Grounded in an activist ethnography of evictions against Roma people in Bucharest, Romania, the work provides a reading of urban precarity as not only an embodied product, but also a producer of the urban political. It advances an innovative methodology to investigate the politics of urban precarity, which focuses around four intersecting processes: the historical pre-makings of precarity; the discursive and material displacement of its in-making; embodied resistance as a form of un-making; and authoritarian responses as its re-making. Through its theoretical and methodological insights, the paper contributes to scholarship interested in a critical understanding of embodiment, politics, and urban precarity beyond the analysed case.

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... A growing literature (Carr, Edgeworth, and Hunter 2018;Lancione 2018;Muñoz 2018;Blomley 2019) focuses on the increasing difficulties to access housing, through the concept of precarity. Drawing on this literature, I will use the concepts of 'precarization of the right to housing' and 'housing precarity' . ...
... Consequently, housing precarity has to be considered as a dynamic, complex, and changing concept that does not follow constant patterns. Hence there is a need to consider its economic, historical, and social causes at the local level, considering how it affects people, and also the form of resistance developed by social movements to un-make housing precarity (Vasudevan 2015;Lancione 2018). ...
... While neoliberal cities are transformed and reshaped according to the needs of the market and profits and to the detriment of the people who inhabit them (Harvey 2008), the urban space has seen a spread of housing precarity. However, these same cities can be also considered as a space of resistance and development of urban social movements (Mayer 2009) in which attempts to un-make precarity and imagine alternative conceptions of city and future can also be developed (Vasudevan 2015;Simone 2016;Lancione 2018). ...
Article
In Spain, the Global Financial Crisis soon became a housing crisis. The Spanish national governments, despite the recognition of the right to an adequate housing by Article 47 of the Spanish Constitution, prioritized the rescue of the financial system and the application of austerity measures contributing to a sharp increase in housing precarity. In Barcelona, the social consequences of the housing crisis overlapped with the long-term effects of urban transformations and the growth of tourism promoted by the so-called ‘Barcelona Model,’ implemented since the end of the seventies. However, Barcelona can be also considered the epicentre of a grassroots response to urban and housing precarity. This response has been promoted by social movements and later, municipal institutions. In this article, starting from the experience of Plataforma Afectados por la Hipoteca - PAH (‘Platform of People Affected by Mortgages’) I consider the strategies used by this social movement since 2009 to respond to housing precarity. Then I look at how between 2015 and 2019 the municipal government led by Barcelona en Comú - BeC faced housing and gentrification-related problems, considering the main strategies adopted in these fields, their impact and limits. Using this twofold analysis, I will argue that, thanks to the strategies, counternarratives, mobilizations and policies developed by social movements, and later the municipal government, Barcelona is becoming a laboratory of possible responses to the housing crisis. Through a rights-based approach, the focus is moving from the needs of markets, profit and economic growth to the needs of those affected by housing precarity.
... And one such reorganization has been the marginalization of the value attached to accessible and affordable housing and bringing to the center the idea of property as an utmost value. Through massive processes of privatization, the publicly-owned housing stock became individually owned, and one of the key processes through which this has been achieved has been restitutions (Zerilli 2006;Lancione 2018;Chelcea 2019). ...
... Colonial dynamics of knowledge production become even more obvious and intense when the racial element is clearly affirmed: the Eastern European urban poor become the most 'interesting' when they are also Roma. Through a process of culturalization and ethnicization, actual urban resistance is depoliticized and the stake of building a radical anti-racist analytic for housing justice is lost (Lancione 2018). On the other side, the material form that best embodies such resistance with a radical anti-racist opening is the tactic of protest encampments built by evictees from restituted property. ...
... Aligned with social science findings (Chelcea 2006(Chelcea , 2012Lancione 2018), such militant research sheds new light on restitutions as a process that reveals racism to be at the core of post-socialist property redistribution. Militant research and organizing have shown us that processes of housing injustice have at their core anti-Roma structural racism. ...
Article
Based on my experience as an organizer and militant researcher for the FCDL—Frontul Comun pentru Dreptul la Locuire [Common Front for Housing Rights]—in Bucharest, I propose a critical analysis of post-socialist property redistribution by emphasizing the role of Westernizing aspirational paradigms. Supported by findings of colleagues and comrades from similar organizations in Romania, I argue that restitutions are a key process for understanding the aspirational, racializing dynamics of property redistribution in post-socialism through their hegemonic narrative of restoring a pre-communist, ‘European’ class composition. I seek to build a situated scholar-activist perspective anchored in the experience and testimony of evictions produced by restitutions. Placing the resistance of the Vulturilor community in Bucharest, a mixed Romanian-Roma community, as the starting point of my analysis, I argue that the tactics of encampments run by evictees in the Romanian context are in fact a radical form of protest that breaks with standards of protest as formulated in normative Western narratives. By going beyond the conventional categories of ‘the concerned citizen’ to be found in some right to the city type of movements in the region, the strategies of evictees push the boundaries of radicalism and solidarity. At the same time, they make space for a protest practice outside of the civilizational narratives of Western becoming, breaking the aspirational paradigm of becoming a white middle-class West. Such struggles break with historical property regimes based on continous racialized dispossesions, setting a new threshold for political anti-racist struggles that go beyond the cultural.
... There are additional sociospatial implications to this argument. Fortunately, there is an emergent body of research exploring the stigmatisation, eviction, and marginalisation of Roma people in Central and Eastern Europe (Pulay 2018;Méreiné-Berki et al. 2017;Grill 2018;Crețan and O'Brien 2019;Lancione 2019;Málovics et al. 2019;Crețan, Méreiné-Berki, and Málovics 2020). However, much of this research focuses on Roma spatial segregation, which is indubitably severe and pronounced in some areas. ...
... The Banat area therefore offers an example where comparatively recent types of migration have reshaped cultural perceptions of who 'belongs' in the area, and who does not. Positioning rural Roma in the historical context of the area Historically, the Roma have a long history of being a marginalised group (politically, economically, and socially), from slavery in the older Romanian principalities to the pogroms of World War Two (Powell and Lever 2017;Lancione 2019). However, the predicament of contemporary rural Roma needs to be understood in terms of more recent changes, in particular the social, economic, and cultural impacts of the progressive shift from a socialist to a capitalist mode of production. ...
... Many of the Romanian interviewees believed that negative attitudes towards Roma families were generated by highly visible differences of politics, economics, and social mores between Roma and Romanians, a similar pattern to what we know from the current literature (Kligman 2001;Lancione 2019). However, the picture was not uniform: some participants accepted and respected Roma culture, while many others exhibited more negative tendencies towards rejection and discrimination. ...
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The issue of otherness in the social construction of ethnicities and rural multiculturalism has long attracted the attention of scholars. By following a postcolonial background, this paper investigates the social construction of Roma as ‘other’ in a multicultural landscape (the Romania-Serbia border) using interviews with participants of different ethnic groups. This paper addresses the following questions: (i) Is the Roma population in this area completely spatially segregated? (ii) How do different kinds of prejudice against Roma operate within this multicultural context? (iii) How does discrimination against the Roma interface with power relations, in particular political power in the area? The findings indicate that, alongside ethno-nationalist racism, Roma face prejudice from apparently more ‘progressive’ groups, who accept multiculturalism, yet blame the Roma for their own disadvantaged social and economic position on the grounds of a failure to integrate that is pictured as ‘backward’.
... On a global scale, the attention paid to housing precarity and vulnerability has spurred in-depth inquiries about urban poverty through the lens provided by housing dispossession (Desmond, 2016;Madden & Marcuse, 2016), as well as the biopolitical underpinnings of indebtedness (García-Lamarca & Kaika, 2016). Related literature has shed light on how the global hyper-financialisation of housing (e.g., Aalbers, 2016) generates housing vulnerability, whilst other scholars have investigated place-based politics manifesting housing discontent (e.g., Vasudevan, 2017;Lancione, 2018). ...
... This encompasses a shift from the objectification of their research to the subjectivation of their and others' positionality, as the activist scholar puts their bodily and political commitment on the line to cooperate with others towards a political goal (Lancione, 2016). The co-production of knowledge thus pursues the development, and dissemination, of radical struggles and conflicts against the intersectional, spatialised manifestations of injustice, exploitation and oppression, including housing vulnerability (Lancione, 2018;Grazioli, 2021a;Portelli & Tschoepe, 2021). ...
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Radical Housing Journal, July 2022 Vol 4(1): 31-50 Section: Long Read https://doi.org/10.54825/WQAH3246 Radical Housing Journal, July 2022 Vol 4(1): 31-50 Section: Long Read https://doi.org/10.54825/WQAH3246 (Full special issue available here: https://radicalhousingjournal.org/issue/issue-4-1/) Abstract Since the 2008 financial crash, housing vulnerability has been acknowledged as a determinant in the erosion of the social and territorial cohesion that is jeopardising the existence of urban communities. However, this recognition departs from the reality of housing policies implemented by states, who largely prioritise the continuity of neoliberal urbanisation over the pursuit of spatialised justice. This approach is exemplified by Article 5 of the 2014 Italian National Housing Plan, which represents the core of governmental effort to repress grassroots responses to the habitation crisis that exploded post-2008. The law aims to discourage the phenomenon of squatting vacant urban space for dwelling by stripping the possibility of housing squatters to have a legally registered address, hence of the civil and social rights connected to formally reckoned urban citizenship. Drawing upon the ethnographic materials collected during my activist-research since 2015 inside the Blocchi Precari Metropolitani collective (as part of the larger Housing Rights Movements, hereby HRMs), the article discusses the practical, political and theoretical relevance of grassroots strategies and contentious politics adopted by the HRMs in Rome to contrast the effects of the law from 2014 onwards, focusing on the critical turning point of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Keywords Article 5, squatting, housing crisis, Housing Rights Movements, Rome
... Such experimental comparison is not meant to reduce differences. It rather seeks to highlight the heterogeneity of common urban and spatial processes (Caldeira, 2017;Heslop et al., 2020;Lancione 2019b), and, in the Roma case, of racialised, yet highly mobile, groups, that manage to improve their living conditions. ...
... To start with the ANL in Romania, budgetary deficits and a poorly functioning organisation have made the ANL a failure in terms of output figures (Amman et al., 2017;Turcu, 2017). In the period since the establishment of the ANL (1998), large-scale evictions could not be averted (Ion, 2014;Lancione, 2017Lancione, , 2019bChelcea, Popescu, and Cristea, 2015). In Argentina, the FHP failed to meet expectations to revive the construction of public housing: after minor successes in its first years, construction figures stayed far below the projected 420,000 new housing units (Di Virgilio, 2017;Muñoz, 2017)an insufficient number in any case. ...
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This article examines the community-led housing practices of two related Boyash-Roma communities in Argentina and Romania. The Argentinean case introduces the story of the Ludar in the Greater Buenos Aires Region , a Romanian-speaking subgroup of the Roma, who likely arrived here between 1880 and 1900. Throughout Argentina, most of the Ludar are involved in street vending. The second case concerns the Roma communities of the Rudari from Vâlcea County in Romania, who travel to Sweden primarily to beg. Although the cases seem unrelated, they demonstrate how close engagement with Roma and their socioeconomic mobility allows experimental comparisons of informality and urban development in various parts of world. While their mobile earning strategies are contested by authorities, they enable many to secure a feeling of belonging in a post-crisis context , characterised by rampant racism, greatly restricted welfare provision and increasingly constrained mobility. The newly emerging homes are understood as spaces of hope and dignity and the coping strategies as processes meant to unmake precarity. In this way, the article contributes to an emerging scholarship of Roma resistance, while informing broader contestations of urban marginality.
... Precarity is therefore double-faced; it is a product ofand a producer ofurban life, giving rise to specific modes of being (Lancione, 2020(Lancione, , 2019. Recognising that pervasive notions of 'normal' urban residence obscure the everyday lives of those who occupy uninhabitable spaces (Simone, 2016), the article makes a number of contributions to the international literature on identity-construction, displacement and homelessness. ...
... Part of resisting a 'homeless identity' was also a resistance against the bodily control imposed through aspects of service provision. Rather than the 'careful impression management' (Cloke et al., 2008) involved in accessing hostels, or sofa surfers' concerns about 'being in the way' of their hosts, living informally could provide a sense of freedom that avoided the bodily control of other environments (Lancione, 2019). Whilst insecurity commonly destabilises or forestalls the assemblage of a home (Soaita and McKee, 2019), for some home making could be performed in unconventional and temporary domestic spaces (McCarthy, 2018). ...
Article
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This article considers how individuals who experience continuous displacement from housing manage the ‘spoiled identity’ of homelessness. The research draws on in-depth, biographical interviews with 39 individuals living in Oxford, a high-cost UK city. All had experienced forms of homelessness in the previous three years. Building on critical debates around experiences of precarity in urban geography, the article explores how individuals construct and maintain a sense of identity whilst living precarious lives. Participants were constantly confronted with their own precarity in pressured housing markets, which fostered their displacement, and then undermined re-entry into stable housing. Yet, participants described their attempts to maintain a ‘normal’ life, rejecting homeless subjectivities as they anchored their identity to daily practices of self care. These were also a key means of distinction from others experiencing displacement, enabling individuals to dis-identify from those characterised by moral and personal failings, thus highlighting their own responsibility and resourcefulness. Others described the bodily transformation that was associated with assuming the identity of ‘homeless’. Participants moved between different subject positions, with distinct narratives through which individuals sought to reclaim precarious identities, foregrounding alternative choices, pride in survival and resourcefulness, and freedom. Whilst this occurred within a context of extreme constraint, individuals were actively engaged in attempts to construct a sense of worth and value that was denied by a ‘homeless identity’. The article contributes to contemporary debates foregrounding social processes in understandings of the lived experiences of marginalisation, as well as adding empirical depth to representations of hidden homelessness.
... These ideas are particularly picked up in the paper below, authored by Harris with Mel Nowicki and Katherine Brickell (Harris et al, 2019; also Harris and Nowicki, 2018), but reading this blog was also a decisive moment in the thinking of the guest-editors about the Geoforum special issue that we are here introducing -with the same title as this editorial paper -precisely because it anticipates how we were starting to understand certain articulations of precarity, as a broadly political-economic trajectory of urban structuration, and precariousness, as a more phenomenologically-grounded way of living, experiencing and being-in the world. More narrowly, the blog identifies substantive subject-matters covered in this special issue, to do with pop-ups (Harris et al, 2019), property guardianship (Vasudevan and Ferreri, 2019) and evictions (Lancione, 2019), as well as speaking of ephemerality, insecurity and uncertainty in a manner anticipating all the other contributions. ...
... There is also conceptual variety on show, more explicit in some papers than in others, but always alert to how precarity is made, a processual becoming rather than a timeless structural property, and to how precariousness amounts to what might be cast as 'a fragile assemblage of fragility', contingently spun together from filaments of thought, feeling, practice and things (human and non-human, material and virtual). Michele Lancione, in his contribution, particularly advances such a processual account, distinguishing different stages in the 'making' -the 'pre-makings', the 'in-makings', the 'un-makings' and the 're-makings' -of precarious housing spaces for the Roma in Bucharest (Lancione, 2019). A conceptual presence in all the papers, meanwhile, is Judith Butler and her remarkable insights -feminist, criticaltheoretic, Foucauldian and psychoanalytic -into the problematics of precarity and precariousness. ...
... In what follows, I first clarify the paper's conceptual contribution, by discussing the notion of "dispossession" in relation to the post-socialist context, and then I present the three baselines of racialisation I am working on in Ferentari, which expand cognate investigations I am conducting in other areas of the city (Lancione 2017(Lancione , 2018(Lancione , 2019. The conclusion confronts the question of what kind of liberation might be possible when one embraces a disillusioned view on the capacity of state agencies to deal with systemic racism. ...
... The problem was of course bigger than Ferentari itself. As I have illustrated in another paper (Lancione 2018), the communist state did not have a clear policy on "gypsies" for many years (Merfea 1994). The approach taken by the authorities was to consider Roma "workers" like any others, including them in the working classes, even though they mostly undertook lower-skilled jobs. ...
Article
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The paper explores the racialised geography of a series of socialist blocs located in the southern periphery of Bucharest, labelled as a contemporary Romanian “ghetto”. Through extensive ethnographic and archival work, it expands on contemporary Western race-aware urban scholarship, advancing an expansive reading of the “plan” as a key element to account for the endurance of foundational dispossession in the context of Bucharest. The goal is to trace how the social segmentations of “class” and “race” have been diagrammed through discontinuous city-making in the last hundred years, refuting a reading of these complex processes as a matter of evolutionary stages between economic regimes, which ends up reproducing a stereotypical representation of the Eastern “other”. The paper contributes to a situated approach to racial urbanism, offering the basis for a trans-Atlantic dialogue around the makings and unmakings of urban dispossession.
... Many have felt and lived the consequences. For homeless people and drug users like Radu, but also for sex workers, the elderly poor, racialized others, and many more, the past thirty years have intensified a long history of exploitation, racialization, and neglect (Lancione 2019a;McElroy 2019). ...
Article
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This essay examines the politics of home in underground Bucharest, and the ways relationships of care among homeless drug users emerge amid everyday violence and exclusion, illuminating the unconventional practices of belonging that take shape in transient communal spaces such as underground electric, transportation, and waste-management systems. The traces of systemic exclusion in these experiences converge in makeshift forms of kinship and care, provoking questions of solidarity, fragility, and the political potential of recognizing such forms through ethnographic collaboration.
... Through a focus on the intimate micro-politics of the urban encounter and its affects, we articulate a complex multitude of Roma responses that challenge binary understandings of the internalization of stigma versus resistance to stigma (Wacquant et al., 2014; see also Brooks, 2012). This focus on micro-politics speaks to the need to decouple the urban margins from such binaries when accounting for the dynamic making and (attempts at) unmaking marginality (Lancione, 2019a;2019b). ...
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Roma discrimination and stigmatization in Europe are well-documented with urban scholars emphasizing pervasive prejudices and stereotypes alongside negative policy outcomes. However, the focus on Roma marginality has tended to centre on punitive state and urban governance to the neglect of everyday urban relations. This article focuses on the micro manifestations of stigmatization – racialized urban encounters – and their neglected longer-term affects for Roma in Czechia and Romania. Ethnographic research and in-depth qualitative interviews with Roma expose a complex, dynamic and multi-layered response to stigmatization that challenges the simplistic binary of resistance versus the internalization of stigma. The concept of fragmented habitus is deployed in capturing this dynamic process and nuancing the urban inhabitation of a long-term stigmatized and racialized position, beyond generic “Otherness”. We argue for more attention to the specificities and complexities of everyday relations and their affects in capturing the interdependence between urban encounters, the longer-term construction of Roma inferiority, and the heterogeneous, dynamic and ambivalent ways in which Roma inhabit their racialized urban position.
... Il punto di inizio delle riflessioni che seguono è la precarietà dell'abitare informale che si riproduce in un contesto di crisi abitativa, intesa come la relazione tra i meccanismi di marginalizzazione di una parte della popolazione urbana e le risposte messe in atto per fronteggiare tali meccanismi (Lancione, 2019). Dunque, il principale oggetto di indagine in questo numero sono i margini urbani dell'abitare; quelli che possiamo definire non come luoghi della città abitati da persone caratterizzate da specifiche condizioni socio-economiche, ma come luoghi nei quali si concentrano tensione o conflittualità che emergono da rapporti di potere fortemente asimmetrici. ...
Article
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L’abitare informale è da tempo un tema di particolare interesse per il dibattito accademico sulla città e lo sviluppo urbano tanto da diventare oggetto di numerosi studi nell’ambito delle scienze sociali che ne discutono a partire da lavori sulla povertà, le condizioni di vita e i meccanismi di esclusione sociale, fino a fare esplodere queste argomentazioni in ricerche focalizzate sulla (ri)produzione di marginalità abitativa, i modelli spaziali di frammentazione socio-economica legati alla casa e l’accesso diseguale al welfare abitativo (Waibel, 2016), e così via. In modo particolare, gli studi sulle forme e i significati dell’abitare informale in Italia si sono tradizionalmente concentrati sull’autocostruzione abusiva di immobili considerata un elemento strutturante dello sviluppo urbano del paese e un canale informale di accesso alla proprietà (Coppola, 2013; Cellamare, 2010; Cremaschi, 1990). Di più recente formazione è, invece, il dibattito sulle occupazioni di alloggi e stabili a fini abitativi che sembrano disegnare le geografie di un fenomeno altrettanto consolidato dentro il sistema di welfare abitativo italiano (Grazioli & Caciagli, 2018; Belotti & Annunziata, 2018). In termini generali, potremmo definire il fenomeno delle occupazioni abitative come un insieme di pratiche di ‘auto-abitazione’ – non solo devote alla auto-costruzione fuori dall’iter legale, ma anche relative a pratiche di auto-appropriazione a fini abitativi – messe in atto da quote di popolazione soggette a dinamiche di espulsione dal mercato (pubblico e privato) della casa che assumono la forma tanto di azioni collettive che di iniziative promosse da singoli soggetti (per sé stessi o per i loro nuclei familiari). Questa edizione speciale di Argomenti ha l’obiettivo di arricchire il dibattito accademico sulle occupazioni abitative che in Italia si è interessato principalmente alle espressioni ‘politiche’ di tale fenomeno (crf. tra gli altri Di Feliciantonio, 2017; Grazioli, 2017; Pruijt, 2013). A tale fine, i contributi contenuti in questo numero articolano il dibattito in questione concentrando l’attenzione su due città italiane, Roma e Napoli, partendo da alcune domande e riflessioni sollevate durante la XXII Conferenza annuale di ESPANet tenutasi ad Urbino lo scorso settembre 2019 nello specifico intento di conferire organicità a questo dibattito mettendo in luce punti di discussione comuni, caratterizzazioni specifiche e nodi problematici su cui spostare l’attenzione e a cui conferire la dovuta centralità nel dibattito. Quali sono gli attori e i meccanismi che definiscono le pratiche di occupazione a scopo abitativo oggi in Italia? Quali sono gli obiettivi che animano gli esperimenti di abitare informale? Come analizzare e dare voce alle dinamiche interne a tali esperimenti di messa in discussione della grammatica moderna di ‘abitante’ (Mouffe, 2013)?Quali spazi di pertinenza queste pratiche sottraggono alla formulazione di un adeguato welfare abitativo? Quanta influenza esercita sullo sviluppo di queste pratiche la vicinanza a organizzazioni socio-politiche ed urbane pre-esistenti? Come possono essere classificate queste pratiche combinando motivazioni e modalità di azione tra spinta individuale e azione collettiva? Da che punto di vista può essere inquadrata l’informalità abitativa nel suo spazio di relazione con le istituzioni locali e nazionali? Questi sono solo una parte degli interrogativi che hanno guidato la stesura dei contributi contenuti in questa special issue della rivista.
... In questo modo, intendiamo arricchire il dibattito accademico sulla complessità di forme e di gradienti politici che caratterizza le pratiche di squatting nelle città italiane. Per fare ciò, tale indagine riflette sui diversi significati politici che colorano i casi di occupazioni abitative tradizionalmente dipinte come pratiche adattive di gruppi urbani subalterni (Lancione, 2019), mobilitando a tal fine alcuni concetti elaborati della letteratura internazionale sui movimenti sociali urbani. ...
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Deprivation-based squatting is one of the several forms of urban squatting that academic debate has identified in Western countries. However, scholars have usually neglected this form of squatting, focusing their analysis mainly on politically-oriented occupations promoted by urban social movements. This paper intends to enrich the academic debate on complex meanings of deprivation-based squatting through analyzing the case of occupations in the rione De Gasperi, a public housing neighborhood in eastern Naples (Italy). This is a peculiar case of deprivation-based squatting that we call individualistic squatting, whose main features are analyzed and its inherent political character is stressed.
... Il punto di inizio delle riflessioni che seguono è la precarietà dell'abitare informale che si riproduce in un contesto di crisi abitativa, intesa come la relazione tra i meccanismi di marginalizzazione di una parte della popolazione urbana e le risposte messe in atto per fronteggiare tali meccanismi (Lancione, 2019). Dunque, il principale oggetto di indagine in questo numero sono i margini urbani dell'abitare; quelli che possiamo definire non come luoghi della città abitati da persone caratterizzate da specifiche condizioni socio-economiche, ma come luoghi nei quali si concentrano tensione o conflittualità che emergono da rapporti di potere fortemente asimmetrici. ...
Article
Full-text available
L'abitare informale è da tempo un tema di particolare interesse per il dibattito accademico sulla città e lo sviluppo urbano-tanto da diventare oggetto di numerosi studi nell'ambito delle scienze sociali che ne discutono a partire da lavori sulla povertà, le condizioni di vita e i meccanismi di esclusione sociale, fino a far esplodere queste argomentazioni in ricerche su temi come la (ri)produzione di marginalità abitativa, i modelli spaziali di frammentazione socio-economica legati alla casa e l'accesso diseguale al welfare abitativo (Waibel, 2016). In modo particolare, gli studi sulle forme e i significati dell'abitare informale in Italia si sono tradizionalmente concentrati sull'autocostruzione abusiva di immobili considerata un elemento strutturante dello sviluppo urbano del paese e un canale informale di accesso alla proprietà (Coppola, 2013; Cellamare, 2010; Cremaschi, 1990). Di più recente formazione è, invece, il dibattito sulle occupazioni di alloggi e stabili a fini abitativi che sembrano disegnare le geografie di un fenomeno altrettanto consolidato dentro il sistema di welfare abitativo italiano (Grazioli & Caciagli, 2018; Belotti & Annunziata, 2018). In termini generali, potremmo definire il fenomeno delle occupazioni abitative come un insieme di pratiche di 'auto-abitazione'-non solo devote alla auto-costruzione fuori dall'iter legale, ma anche relative a pratiche di auto-appropriazione a fini abitativi-messe in atto da quote di popolazione soggette a dinamiche di espulsione dal mercato (pubblico e privato) della casa che assumono la forma tanto di azioni collettive che di iniziative promosse da singoli soggetti (per sé stessi o per i loro nuclei familiari). Questo numero di Argomenti è dedicato in gran parte ad arricchire il dibattito accademico sulle occupazioni abitative, che in Italia si è interessato principalmente alle espressioni 'politiche' di tale fenomeno (cfr. tra gli altri Di Feliciantonio, 2017; Grazioli, 2017; Pruijt, 2013)...
... Half of the Roma from compact communities live in households that are inadequate for living, such as improvised shelters, containers, abandoned industrial facilities, former socialist workers' dormitories, or colonies (Horváth, 2017, p. 109). The very low quality of housing, linked with the disappearance of the social housing sector (ªoaită, 2017;Turcu, 2017) and with the inefficient administrative policies directed towards large housing estates, especially those with vulnerable populations (Marin and Chelcea, 2018), led to a major housing crisis for the poor, further deepened by a policy of evictions (Berescu, 2010;Lancione, 2019). ...
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https://www.geonika.cz/EN/research/ENMGRClanky/10361-Volume_29_Issue_2_Paper_4.pdf_____________________________ In contrast to other countries in East Central Europe, Romania stands out because of a high number of small and segregated Roma settlements. As an ethnic minority, the Roma are overrepresented in marginalised and impoverished settlements and, given the basic recommendations to contain the pandemic – wash hands, keep the distance and work from home, their situation was disproportionately exacerbated by the imposition of lockdown measures. We use secondary data to interpret the deprivation features that puts them at greater epidemic risk. In addition, the Covid-19 crisis led to a sudden return of the Romanian Roma living in Western Europe. The slums and ghettos were more strictly quarantined than regular areas, suggesting a form of negative quarantine. Quarantine was – next to its medical purpose – used as a rhetoric and disciplinary device. Roma were portrayed as infection spreaders, and racism was channelled mainly through the media. While the spread of the disease placed them at risk, the lockdown itself induced major survival challenges. By using media and social media analysis, we show how the discourse of negative quarantine unfolded. The latter was diluted in the general relaxation of containment measures, but its legacy as a practice raises questions for the future governance of areas inhabited by the Roma.
... These come to the fore in disputes about meanings of property and legitimations of property claims and elucidate the notion of citizenship as agonic and as a powerful lever of inclusion and exclusion. Therefore, dispossession and the production of precarity have to be regarded as relational and multidimensional processes that are embedded in historical constellations of power, and not as unique incidents (Lancione, 2019). The two empirical cases presented in this paper demonstrate the difficulties of disrupting the antagonistic demarcations that impede affected people from entering into a public agonistic dispute and allow the continuing reproduction of asymmetric power relations. ...
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This paper analyzes the struggle around dispossession in the context of the Belo Monte Dam in the Brazilian Amazon. The construction consortium dominated the process of dispossession with politics of non-recognition that assigned valuelessness to local ways of life and concepts of property. Aggravated by the prevalence of cli-entelistic relations that blocked formal negotiation opportunities, this induced a process of fragmentation and the precarization of many residents. However, some residents organized and offered resistance. Through perfor-mative acts of citizenship, they constituted themselves as political subjects and transformed the conflict into an agonistic struggle. Nevertheless, they continued to be dominated by the consortium and in their resistance forcedly legitimized its politics of displacement. This paper argues that consideration of the way politics, people and their struggle around dispossession and citizenship are entangled with the symbolic order is crucial for understanding and promoting political struggles and advancing agonistic theory.
... Opening up a Conversation T his Special Issue was born from the conviction that, following David Harvey, AbdouMaliq Simone, and Ida Susser, there is much to be gained by returning the nexus of urbanity and precarity to the forefront of ethnographic analyses of how precarity, in its creative as well as debilitating aspects, is "made," "unmade," and "remade" (Lancione 2018). On one level, we envisioned this dialogue to extend beyond current preoccupations in urban anthropology with securitization, infrastructure and social movements. ...
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Cities have long been associated with precarity. This link seems to have intensified under contemporary global regimes of capitalism, with both popular and academic discourses noting the risks that come with building and inhabiting urban environments. The introduction to this special issue reflects on the various ways in which anthropology has engaged with the relationship between “urbanity” and “precarity.” It argues that current work on precarity either favors the experiences of the Global North or sidelines the urban dimension. Studies that overcome these obstacles, moreover, are largely crystalizing around discussions of infrastructure and securitization. We offer the notion of “urban precarity” as a call for ethnography that cross‐germinates developments in urban studies with those made in our understanding of precarity. By foregrounding the urban, the ethnography collated here suggests that in the cities of late capitalism, precarity emerges as a multifaceted condition, encapsulating not only legal and economic deprivation but also moral, spiritual, political, and health‐related uncertainties. As the protagonists of our ethnography struggle to deal with the many threats bearing down upon them, precarity is also revealed as a condition conducive to world‐building and social transformation, although such forms of creative agency are highly experimental and liable to backfire.
... For this discussion, one of the most salient elements of neoliberal urbanization is the growth of precarity (Philo et al., 2019;Lancione, 2019;Watt, 2018;Ferreri et al., 2017). This can be seen most clearly in the housing system. ...
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This paper asks what critical urban theory can add to the sociology of disasters. If the fundamental insight of disaster studies is that there's no such thing as a natural disaster, the starting point for critical urban studies is that capitalist urbanization is a disaster waiting to happen. Disasters are promoted and inflected by the specific forms of crisis and vulnerability created by neoliberal urbanization. Disasters are also ways in which urban space is produced and remade, in a process that can be called disaster urbanization. A critical account of the relationship between contemporary urbanization and disaster can help us better understand the disaster-prone, unevenly urbanizing future.
... Clearly, property relations shape capacities and forms of care performed in the field of private rental housing. Feminist perspectives on the home and care evince that care emerges as a necessary commitment to make "home" and dwelling possible (Blunt and Dowling 2006, Mee 2009, Evans 2018, Power and Bergan 2018, Lancione 2019. For instance, Young's critique on Heidegger's classic "Building, Dwelling, Thinking" suggests that people do not "attain to dwelling only by means of building" (Young 2005, 117), but also through practises of care. ...
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As property speculation has become an integral element of the rental market, debates on housing dispossession and displacement regularly place normative claims on responsibilities for the provisioning, maintanance, and safeguarding of adequate and affordable housing. Yet, while offering important perspectives, these discussions lack a theoretically grounded account of responsibility that would allow for an analysis and critique of how modes of responsibility and irresponsibility are practised and an understanding of how these practises are mediated by liberal property regimes (Singer, 2000, Blomley, 2013). Focusing on the evacuation of the mass rental housing complex Hannibal II in the municipality of Dortmund (Germany) and the eviction of its 753 tenants in the context of decades-long processes of speculative disinvestment and property neglect, this paper explores the lived relations of (ir)responsibility that shape processes of housing. How is responsibility assigned, abdicated, and enacted by all concerned parties? Based on a discussion of the building’s decay, the tenants’ evacuation and later redevelopment attempts, we argue that the narrow understandings of responsibility for housing inscribed in liberal property regimes obscure responsibility relations that work alongside, disguise, or stabilize the vulnerabilities and harms of housing regimes. In conclusion we thus suggest that reading property relationally – as a string of social agreements that mediate the relation between people (Cooper, 2007, Blomley, 2020) – requires rethinking responsibilities for rental housing property and propose a broader conception of responsibility that is feminist, political, and encompassing.
... This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved site where homelessness is both lived and felt ratifies the body as a site where broader forms of power relations are enacted and ascribed (Lancione, 2019;Parsell, 2011). When I asked to record our conversation and was rebuked for the audacity, I neglected to recognise how I was performing power as a researcher. ...
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Arising from seven months of auto/ethnographic research in an English city, this paper attends to the mundane practices through which we – ‘the homeless’ - renegotiate ourselves to become more-than-homeless. The ‘we’ through which these auto/biographies are writ denotes an inflection on the spectral presence of my own experiences of homelessness, spectral because they reflect a historic occurrence brought back in the doing of this research. Affording a unique position of betweenness, this article thus seeks to add depth and nuance to the homeless literature by emphasising the embodied performances through which we become more-than-homeless. To this end, this paper contributes to recent approaches in homelessness research drawing on performativity and embodiment to show how we are neither ontologically nor existentially reducible to our homelessness. Exploring the webs of relational engagements acts of remembering, forgetting, supressing, misremembering and imagining, distance the moment of homelessness so that we are able to become someone other than ‘homeless’. This distancing is not to shade the ways in which we are different. Rather, it is to reveal a dimension of possibilities, both spatial and temporal, through which we resist a subsumption into the singular mass of ‘the homeless’, becoming instead someone more-than-homeless.
... Beyond this immediate contribution, we also add to the global evidence based on the devastating consequences of housing precarity (see eg Desmond, 2016;Lancione, 2019;Vasudevan, 2015) thereby advancing the literature on the politics of housing that has been growing in momentum within this and other housing journals (Jacobs & Pawson, 2015). The next section summarizes the key debates within the 'Generation rent' literature, drawing specifically on Madden & Marcuse's (2016) work on 'residential alienation'. ...
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The UK private-rented sector is increasingly accommodating a diverse range of households, many of whom are young people struggling to access other forms of housing. For those at the bottom end of the sector, who typically have limited economic resources , it is a precarious housing tenure due to its expense and insecurity, yet few studies have explored qualitatively the emotional consequences of this for well-being. We address this gap in the 'generation rent' literature by focusing attention on those voices that have been less prominent in the literature. Informed by the theoretical lens of 'residential alienation', our study illustrates the emotional toll of private renting upon low-income groups in a national context where state regulation is more limited. In doing so, we add nuance to the literature surrounding socioeconomic differentiation within the UK private-rented sector. Our arguments are also relevant to an international audience given global concerns about housing precarity and the politics of housing.
... We are moreover troubled by home's displacement into the public and marginal spaces as experienced by homeless people and many migrants, refugees, domestic workers or car/caravan-dwellers because they are stripped of control over the use of their residential space or because the space is physically inappropriate or unaffordable (Lancione, 2018;Lloyd and Vasta, 2017;Tete, 2012). The new materialistic ontologies (Bennett, 2010;DeLanda, 2015), within which assemblage-thinking is situated, invite us to recall the materiality of home, its physical properties and individual uses, into a housing scholarship that has mostly remained centred on normative meanings and qualities (Clapham, 2011). ...
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Drawing on assemblage-thinking and specific assemblage concepts, this article explores the ways in which young, less affluent people create a sense of home in an unregulated, market-based private renting sector (PRS) that confers reduced tenant agency and frequent, undesired residential mobility. For this context, we propose the concept of 'home-assembling' to account for the ontologically, normatively and emotionally different processes involved in constructing a sense of home than those connoted by home-making. Through in-depth telephone interviews and photo elicitation, we explore: the transient, incomplete nature of practices of home personalisation; the destabilising effect of broken things which erodes the sense of home and instils feelings of unworthiness; and processes of de-territorialisation, particularly unwanted real/feared re-location, space sharing and confinement in small rooms. We document that the struggle to continually assemble, de-assemble and reassemble a sense of home drastically reduces private tenants' wellbeing through stress, anxiety, depression and alienation. However, we also indicate potential lines of change towards alternative futures not least by the emergence of a tenants' 'collective body' as well as by casting tenants' housing ill-being as a matter of public concern.
... Research on housing occupations in European and North American countries has a long tradition of identifying several forms of squatting regarding motivations, practices, strategies, and squatters' profiles and objectives (Aguilera & Smart, 2019;Aitchison, 2018;Vasudevan, 2015;SqEK, 2014;Martínez, 2013;Mudu, 2014;Lancione, 2019). Scholars have largely analysed squatting as a political strategy and collectively organised action by urban social movements with political and countercultural aims, especially in north western European cities. ...
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In this study, I investigate a unique sheltering strategy employed by the urban poor to satisfy their housing-related needs-an individualistic squatting in public housing (Esposito & Chiodelli, 2021). People with low income and no connection (or partial) to social movements or housing activists frequently engage in this practice. Such occupations are among the forms the most recent literature has defined as 'deprivation-based' or 'survival' squatting, stressing housing precarity/desperation as the main driving force. To enrich the existing debate on the latter phenomenon and by exploring a deep ethnographic work in a public housing neighbourhood in Naples (Italy), I propose that individualistic squatting can be a routinised housing option among others. In some cases, squatting is not the last-resort strategy of the urban poor who choose to squat, aiming at materialising long-term solutions within a highly unstable housing context.
... Whether individual or collective, hidden or in the public gaze, activist talk and action are oriented towards creating more just (or less unjust) presents and futures. Summarising over 40 qualitative studies that looked at militant action related to housing, one notes that 'success' may be temporary (Wells 2014), partial (Çelik and Gough 2014;Listerborn et al. 2020), altogether non-existent (Lancione 2019) or fully achieved (Nishita et al. 2007). Furthermore, 'success' depends on the affinities between policy-agenda and grassroots demands; activism may not shift ideology but influence those governments that are already open to change but may not have acted otherwise (Martinez 2019;McPherson 2004;Mendes 2020). ...
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The Covid-19 pandemic has brought under the spotlight home’s severe inadequacies, which take a particular intensity in the various unregulated, insecure rental housing markets across the globe. It is now timely to deliberate what it takes for a rented property to be made home, and in that debate tenants’ voices should be heard. Taking the UK as a case-study and drawing on data collected through an online qualitative questionnaire, the paper focuses on a group of tenants theorised as ‘everyday activists’ to address the empirical question of what they demand from the government for the sector to improve. Considering participants’ legitimising narratives and assertions for self-representation in policy construction, the paper then proposes a reading of the demands made through the ‘Right to Home’, a concept carefully grounded in Henri Lefebvre’s Right to the City. The Right to Home calls for home-ing and democratising current de-radicalised understandings of the right to housing in order to craft more transformative futures.
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Postsocialist urban development is partially characterised by housing deterioration and the perpetual overrepresentation of Romanian Roma in substandard dwellings. These phenomena are particularly noticeable in the margins of larger Romanian cities. Many poor Romanians found, in urban peripheries, a last resort during a period of economic crisis and housing shortages. In the meantime, public policy and urban planning have focused on maintaining 'collective order' and accommodating the wishes of the 'decently' housed residents of the city. This is certainly the case in Bucharest, where squatters and homeless people have been expelled from central districts and where the same privileged districts receive substantially more attention. This collective order is apparently deemed more important than the needs of marginalised groups in Romanian society. This article examines how urban mar-ginality is addressed at the municipal level and how 'parsimonious' public intervention in poor residential areas is justified. In doing so, I highlight the roles of postsocialist devolution, inadequate use of EU and national funds, and reviving racialisation in reproducing housing poverty.
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The Western Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca is among the few Central and East European non-capital cities in economic recovery following the dismantlement of actually existing socialism. Privatization-led housing politics and capital accumulation-driven real estate development, together with racialization and urban branding, (re)produce uneven development and housing unevenness in the neoliberal city. As the class focused political economy framework is insufficient to comprehend such a complex phenomenon, we explored it at the intersection of class, spatialization and racialization. Employing a whole range of data extracted from interviews, statistics and official documents, the article examines the conditions of possibility for the formation of the two extreme housing arrangements at local level: Cantonului colony, close to the Pata Rât landfill; and the luxurious real estate Maurer Panoramic placed at the heart of the city. Together, they illustrate racialized housing unevenness. Our contribution to urban studies consists in arguing for the central role of housing in the production of spatialized and racialized divisions in the capitalist cities.
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This paper studies the arrival of digital nomads in Cluj, Romania. I focus upon double dispossession, in which ‘digital nomads’ allegorise technocapitalist fantasies by appropriating Roma identity on one hand, and in which Roma are evicted to make way for the arrival of Western digital nomads and tech firms on the other. While Roma are materially dispossessed as Cluj siliconises, they are doubly dispossessed by the conjuration of the deracinated digital nomad/Gypsy. As I suggest, this figure discursively drags with it onto-epistemological residues of 19th-century Orientalism – a literary genre that emerged within the heart of Western European empires. The recoding of the nomad today, I argue, indexes the imperiality of technocapitalism, or techno-imperialism. Double dispossession, as a phenomenon, illuminates that prior histories bolster, and are consumed by, globalising techno-imperialism. Postcolonial and postsocialist studies offer frameworks for understanding this update, as well as the accumulative and multifaceted dispossession that siliconisation inheres. I thus argue for a connected rather than comparative approach in understanding double dispossession, one focused upon connections across time, space and genre. A connected approach remains rooted in community organising and housing justice struggles.
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This paper is part of a review Forum of my film A Inceput Ploaia/It Started Raining, on forced evictions in Romania, organized and published by Dialogues in Human Geography. All contributions can be found here: https://journals.sagepub.com/toc/dhga/9/2
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This paper examines the phenomenon of “property guardianship” in England, focusing on property guardians’ entry into this precarious sector and the reality of their occupation. Drawing on data from a survey of 217 London-based property guardians and an analysis of 512 online property guardian advertisements, we examine: (i) how property guardian advertisements construct this form of accommodation as a destination for young people unable to afford private rented accommodation, and (ii) whether this image meets the reality of day-to-day occupation in the sector. We argue that these advertisements reveal tensions between the presentation of this form of accommodation – billed as a solution to the precarity caused by the lack of housing affordability for young renters – and the precariousness experienced by those living in the sector.
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This chapter follows the main areas of housing-related tensions—housing poverty and low- to middle-classes’ housing access problem—and the mobilizations linked to them, in the city of Bucharest. It follows them across Romania’s first two decades of privatization started in 1990, the period of post-2008 crisis management, followed by a new growth cycle since 2015. The way different groups in Bucharest politicized and expressed these tensions transformed across time, reflecting also tumultuous political changes at the national level. The main political expressions of housing poverty this chapter follows are struggles against ethnicized evictions and lack of social housing in Bucharest, while homelessness and informal housing remained silent aspects of the field, visibly politicized only at certain moments. In the case of low- to middle-income groups, housing-related costs got politicized through claims about wages and utility prices, rather than focusing on housing access or household debt.
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This chapter provides a historical introduction to the main factors that influenced housing and housing-related contention dynamics in Budapest and Bucharest, from the two cities’ modernization booms through their socialist and postsocialist periods, focusing on the role of urban development in the two countries’ world-economic integration, and the changing position of housing policy across different political regimes. We show that in both cases, structural characteristics following from the two capital cities’ relatively similar world-economic position constituted long-term conditions that informed housing-related tensions, housing policies and housing contention across presocialist, socialist and postsocialist periods. Besides such structural similarities, the chapter also highlights how national political regimes’ different reactions to the same world-economic pressures resulted in different economic and housing policies on the ground, as well as different political environments for housing struggles.
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Motivated by my own experiences with serial eviction, I argue for increased reliance on the body as archive and memory as data to be used in the storytelling process about displacement and unhoming. Increased inclusion of personal reflection in the literature on displacement has the potential to further humanize a discipline that is already well-steeped in utilizing qualitative methods, abstract theorization, and quantification to reveal other people’s experiences of loss, longing, and belonging. I argue that increased reliance on autoethnographic approaches used to reflect on and write about deeply stored, somatic experiences of displacement beyond gentrification has the power to transform not just how we, as geographers, talk about displacement but who it is we invite to do the talking.
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The material fabric of a city is never neutral. It speaks to the opportunities of access and usage that some are given at the exclusion of others. Scholars of the everyday have analyzed how city residents counter oppression by appropriating and transforming spaces. Less attention, however, has been given to how not only people, but also material things have agency in producing opportunities for insurgency. This paper examines how people and materialities imbricate, co-producing geographies of survival on Ponte Sant'Angelo, a bridge in Rome where diverse immigrants eke out a living by selling trinkets. Interviews and observations revealed that both seniority on the street and immigration status divide vendors into three groups, each with a different degree of power over other users of the bridge. At the same time, Ponte Sant'Angelo, a physical entity made by permanent built forms as well as contingent elements such as water levels and car traffic, generate five distinct areas, each with a different degree of attractiveness in the eyes of diverse vendors. Differences across vendors and material elements intertwine with one another. The nitty-gritty of the city, its seemingly banal materialities, partner with vendors as they negotiate power and counter exclusion. These circumstances call for expanding scholarship of the everyday, exploring how multiple, interdependent agencies shape urban patterns of oppression and resistance.
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Since urban homelessness first appeared in modern cities, it has served as an indicator of the current socio-spatial order and of its change. Here, we turn our attention to cities in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) in an attempt to discuss homelessness and social change through these cities’ specific historicity and their story of transition from state-socialism to a, mostly, neoliberalized global economy. We argue that this endeavor opens inspiration and new perspectives on: (1) the post-socialist (urban) transformation; (2) urban homelessness as a socio-material experience; (3) the political aspects of informal practices. Relying on research in various spatial and temporal contexts, authors in the special issue inquire into an alternative politics of living in current (post-socialist) cities. They shed light on how homelessness and the lives of people who struggle with housing precarity codefine change, and how they become active agents of urban transformation.
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Roma community in Romania is one of the largest ethnic communities in this country. Romani people integration and reducing disparities between the Roma community and the majority one is a priority for both the Romanian state and the Roma civil society. The integration of the Roma on the labor market is an important step in the integration process. This article proposes qualitative research through the interview method. The research question investigates whether traditional occupations practiced by Roma do not provide Roma access to the labor market today. The general objective of this study aims to identify and analyze qualitatively non-traditional socio-economic practices in the Roma communities in Timișoara and Cluj-Napoca. This objective has been operationalized in several specific objectives related to the identification of traditional economic practices in the occupations of members of the Roma communities in Timisoara and Cluj-Napoca, depending on membership in the subgroup / ethnic group, the identification of non-traditional economic practices in the occupations of members of the Roma communities in Timișoara and Cluj-Napoca, analysis of the role of traditional economic practices in preserving the lifestyle specific to the Roma ethnic group, as essential elements of culture in the communities of Timișoara and Cluj-Napoca. The last two objectives propose the analysis of non-traditional economic practices taken over in the occupations of the members of the Roma communities from Timișoara and Cluj-Napoca following the process of internal and external migration, respectively following the intervention of European funded programs. The participants of this research are 10 Roma people from Cluj-Napoca and 10 Roma people from Timișoara. The research results show that with industrialization, traditional occupations tend to limit their activity and integrated Roma people no longer practice the traditional occupations practiced by their parents or grandparents.
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In 1959, the politics of assimilation led to the creation of a set of municipally organised camps for Roma people in the Stockholm area. The camps were to function as controlled settlements of transition for Roma families awaiting proper homes. This paper focuses on one such camp – the Skarpnäck Camp – which existed longer than anticipated, to the point that its continued operation was criticised as being inconsistent with the government’s assimilation policy. This paper represents an analysis of historical archaeological fieldwork at the former Skarpnäck Camp in southern Stockholm and is based upon interviews conducted with former inhabitants of and visitors to the camp. It uncovers aspects of Roma history on the margins of Swedish society and how marginalisation of the Roma group was given physical form in the creation of sanctioned camps.
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Anthropologists have become increasingly sophisticated in the analysis of class by detailing the urban margins, by ‘studying up’ to examine elite wealth, and by charting the rise of the global middle classes. The anthropological commitment to depth, however, tends to keep these three strata separate in ways that mirror analytically the kind of segregation observed on the ground. Tight analytical framings risk obscuring the co‐ordinates of privilege, especially in cities such as Bucharest, Romania, which are being rapidly transformed by foreign direct investment (FDI). This article, by contrast, moves across Bucharest's diverging strata to explore the complex interconnections between the pursuit of FDI, urban planning, and increased class separation. Ethnographically, the article examines the production of three kinds of emergent spaces – homeless shelters for the very poor; high‐rise towers for the truly elite; and metro stations designed for the middle classes – to trace the interrelated politics of belonging and exclusion in a rapidly transforming city. The article suggests that these efforts, successful as they may be at ordering competing claims to the city, produce a landscape that cements unequal class relations into the built environment. Taken from Bucharest, this analysis offers wider insight into the future of contemporary urbanism in the European Union but also in cities the world over that are being similarly remade to attract global capital. En haut, en bas et ailleurs : placer le privilège à Bucarest en Roumanie Résumé Les anthropologues ont livré des analyses des classes sociales de plus en plus sophistiquées en détaillant les marges urbaines, en « étudiant le haut » pour examiner la richesse de l’élite, et en traçant la montée des classes moyennes mondiales. Cependant, l'engagement anthropologique en faveur de la profondeur tend à maintenir ces trois strates séparées d'une manière qui reflète analytiquement le type de ségrégation observé sur le terrain. Les cadres analytiques étroits risquent de dissimuler les coordonnées des privilèges, en particulier dans des villes comme Bucarest, en Roumanie, qui sont rapidement transformées par les investissements directs à l’étranger (IDE). Cet article, en revanche, se déplace à travers les strates divergentes de Bucarest pour explorer les interconnexions complexes entre la quête d'IDE, l'urbanisme et la séparation accrue des classes. Sur le plan ethnographique, l'article examine la production de trois types d'espaces émergents : des foyers pour sans‐abri destinés aux très pauvres, de grands immeubles pour la véritable élite et des stations de métro conçues pour les classes moyennes, afin de retracer les politiques interdépendantes d'appartenance et d'exclusion dans une ville qui se transforme rapidement. L'article indique que ces efforts, aussi réussis soient‐ils pour mettre en ordre des revendications concurrentes sur la ville, produisent un paysage qui cimente les inégalités dans l'environnement bâti. En se focalisant sur Bucarest, cette analyse offre un aperçu plus large de l'avenir de l'urbanisme contemporain au sein de l'Union européenne, mais aussi dans les villes du monde entier remodelées de la même manière pour attirer le capital mondial.
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Buying a home is becoming more difficult in urban areas across the globe, including in Indonesian cities. However, some rental housing remains relatively affordable. Although affordable rental apartments for low-income individuals are being built on many parts of the Indonesian archipelago, the housing supply cannot satisfy escalating demand. Many municipal governments limit tenancy duration to enable more low-income individuals to find housing. However, this policy encourages renters to share rooms. Qualitative content analysis shows that the tenancy durations of low-income renters are longer than the limit established by municipal governments, which indicates that volatile life-course events do not necessarily drive housing pathways. The heads of households conduct a Community Economy Collective in the form of rental home sharing with relatives in a series of rental tenancies in high-density kampung settlements. These findings help identify additional determinants of low-income residents’ unpredictable housing pathways, which implicate the duration of tenancy for their sequential home sharing in the city.
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Community psychiatry services in Berlin are currently facing serious challenges providing care to their clients due to a strained housing market and a lack of housing for people with low income or on welfare. Rather than using the word precarity to describe the effect of cuts in welfare state benefits and investments, we grasp precarity ethnographically as a situated, processual condition that emerges in urban assemblages. Based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in community psychiatry and with people with a psychiatric diagnosis in Berlin, we elaborate on the entanglement of housing market development, gentrification processes and mental health care provision. Community psychiatry professionals especially face challenges securing decent housing for their clients in the inner-city; as a result they pressure them to keep disturbances to a minimum and keep inconspicuous clients in the mental health care system. We argue that precarity is contingently produced by the coming-together of urban developments and community psychiatry principles. As such, precarity itself is generative of shifts in mental health care practices, produces visible tensions within community psychiatry and unfolds in the everyday struggles of mental health care clients, resulting in ambiguous outcomes. To provide a relational analysis of precarity as lived experience and a condition of urban life, we introduce the notion of niching as a middle-range concept connecting conditions of precarity with what people make of it. This is complemented by an analysis of the socio-material practices that produce urbanism.
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In this conversation we reflect on the struggle for housing in the country and in Central Eastern Europe (CEE), on the Western economic and State power on the East, on grassroot organising and more.
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Since early 2016, in the context of the so-called ‘refugee crisis’, a series of accommodation policies for asylum seekers were developed in Greece under the regime of ‘emergency’, consisting of two pillars: On the one hand, the ‘campisation’ of accommodation in the mainland and, on the other hand, urban apartments. This article sheds light on the uneven geographies of accommodation policies for asylum seekers in metropolitan Athens, by investigating in a complementary way the aforementioned distinct – yet intertwined – types of accommodation. Through the lens of ‘precarity of place’, it argues that asylum accommodation in Athens reproduces multiple geographies of precarity through (a) filtering mechanisms based mainly on vulnerability categorisations, (b) socio-spatial isolation and segregation, and (c) a no-choice basis and extensive control of everyday habitation. The article explores the impact of the above on the everyday lives, socio-spatial relationships, and processes of belonging of asylum seekers, as well as on how they experience – and sometimes contest – precarity of place. The research, conducted in metropolitan Athens, is based on a mixed-methods approach that includes critical policy analysis and interviews with asylum seekers accommodated in camps and apartments, and representatives of institutional actors involved in the accommodation sector.
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This article analyses how the concept of home is interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights and how its definition affects the decisions on cases concerning the Right to Home of Romani individuals. The analysis is conducted departing from a series of renowned cases that have been brought in front of the European Court by individuals of Romani origin. It has often been argued that these cases are steps towards the recognition of the Romani “special needs,” although such narrative has already been criticized for reproducing a stereotypical idea of Roma. In opposition to this argument and in light of the academic debate on the definition of the home, this article claims that the decisions of the Court are mainly based on the association between the home and a sense of stability, which fails to recognize other ideas of the home. The article, though, also highlights possible evolutions in the jurisprudence of the Court emerging from latter cases which may result in a reinforcement of the housing rights of these groups.
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This chapter frames Rome as a self-made, squatted city governed by a composite real-estate urban regime. Drawing on the extensive literature concerning Rome’s post-Second World War development, policy analysis and ethnographic materials, it frames Rome as a metropolis where self-made urbanism, housing and real-estate speculation have for decades represented crucial fields of contention within which grassroots popular actions like squatting thrived. This legacy lays the foundation for reading the new conceptions of housing struggles, the right to the city, urban social movements and regeneration brought forward by Housing Rights Movements, and Blocchi Precari Metropolitani, since the 2007 financial crisis revamped the housing one. This brings into focus the shift from social movements pursuing housing as their main goal, to the Movimento per il Diritto all’Abitare concerned with the right to move, settle and mobilise inside the city.
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This chapter addresses the practical, political and ethical concerns imbricated in activist methodologies and thus in the author’s positionality as an activist research. It initially discusses the stream of debate concerned with the positionality of the researcher during the fieldwork and the burgeoning trend of committed anthropology. The epistemological approach is then translated in the research strategy’s design, and discussed in relation to the ethnographic fieldwork started in late 2014 (e.g. how to conduct interviews; whether to use the recorder; ethnographic analysis and writing; confidentiality; anonymity; a relational understanding of consent). It also offers a research statement about the purposefulness of the dissemination of activist research in the contemporary world.
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The crises that cities face—such as climate change, pandemics, economic downturn, and racism—are tightly interlinked and cannot be addressed in isolation. This paper addresses compound urban crises as a unique type of problem, in which discrete solutions that tackle each crisis independently are insufficient. Few scholarly debates address compound urban crises and there is, to date, a lack of interdisciplinary insights to inform urban governance responses. Combining ideas from complex adaptive systems and critical urban studies, we develop a set of boundary concepts (unsettlement, unevenness, and unbounding) to understand the complexities of compound urban crises from an interdisciplinary perspective. We employ these concepts to set a research agenda on compound urban crises, highlighting multiple interconnections between urban politics and global dynamics. We conclude by suggesting how these entry points provide a theoretical anchor to develop practical insights to inform and reform urban governance.
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Infrastructures are productive ethnographic entry points for understanding evictions. Three analytic strategies have informed the research on the entanglements of evictions and infrastructures. We outline a fourth, centered on evictees’ infra-making. A relatively frequent occurrence after evictions in central neighborhoods in Bucharest, Romania, has been that evicted families camp out in front of “their” former houses. Drawing on a case of this kind, we suggest that the way to understand resistance to being rendered abject is to invite ethnographers to foreground the disconnections, reconnections, and networked ties that the evicted mobilize post-eviction for both survival and protest. That means paying attention not only to material socio-technical assemblages, but also to preparedness in anticipation of eviction, post-eviction claims, and biopolitical expectations of care by the state. Social infrastructures, some neighborhood relations, access to networked connectivity at the workplace, and urban commons such as public water fountains gain heightened importance after eviction.
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The chapter builds upon the existing literature about neoliberal urbanisation, ‘right to the city’ and urban commons to gauge their fitness as interpretive lenses for the Città Meticcia’s complex social reproduction, organisation and politics. It frames the connection between austerity urbanism, the commodification of housing and the post-crisis patterns of neoliberal urbanisation that have been unfolding in neoliberal, Mediterranean cities like Rome. Besides, the author advocates for the definition of ‘housing squats’ as crucial to grasp the heuristic value that existing taxonomies of urban squatting and informality tend to conceal. Lefebvre’s theorisation of the ‘right to the city’ is also critically assessed in the light of its centrality in the political grammar of grassroots urban social movements. Lastly, a spatial-relational conception of urban commons in relation to grassroots practices of urban regeneration is proposed.
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Building on eleven months of engaged research with the Platform for Mortgage-Affected People (PAH) in the Barcelona metropolitan region and involvement in the movement post-2014 as an activist, this paper considers the processes through which people facing foreclosure and eviction become political subjects. Community development, in this context, is seen as a transformative, bottom-up process, unfolding as PAH members collectively push institutional housing-related boundaries by both producing and enacting learned political practices 'from below'. A Rancierian framing of political subjectivation is used and extended to understand how the PAH ruptures indebted subjectivities and assistentialist approaches to mortgage problems, and the challenges such processes face. Upon a brief contextualization of Spain's 1997-2007 housing boom, plus the PAH's antecedents and emergence in the post- 2008 crisis period, I argue that collective advising assemblies and actions are co-constitutive spaces where processes of political subjectivation are generated and enacted. Collective advising assemblies are spaces where people unable to pay their mortgage begin to disidentify with their position in the dominant economic and political configuration and begin to shed their guilt, shame and fear. This process flows through and feeds into actions like blocking evictions, occupying empty bankowned housing or banks, spaces to enact one's disidentification with the existing order and materialize new ways of acting and being. Concluding thoughts identify what the experience of the PAH means for understanding political subjectivation and community development in the 21st century. © Oxford University Press and Community Development Journal. 2017.
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The article offers a study of housing movements in Budapest and Bucharest, with the main focus on the developments since the financial crisis of 2008, stressing the role that both structural and contingent factors play in shaping the dynamics of this “field of contention.” It is argued that a structural view is enlightening for understanding the factors that form the interactive field between activists, such as differences in social positionality as well as ideological conflicts. Moreover, conceiving of a structurally produced field of contention can help explain the differences in housing contention in the two cities. The analysis situates housing movements and their allied, parallel, or opposing actors within the long-term processes of urbanization and global dynamics of commodification, including housing financialization. It demonstrates that to understand how structural and political factors interact in a complex field of contention, attention to processes beyond short-term local movements is necessary.
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The privatization of housing (linked to the privatization of means of production), respectively the creation of a new private housing fund, have been crucial for the emergence of capitalist property regime and market economy in Romania. The state withdrew from its position as a developer (of housing stock, but not only), however it did not remain passive, contrary, it assumed a central role in the creation of the (housing) market through modifying legislation and creating new institutions that administered this process. The article is addressing how the ideology of economic liberalism is working through housing politics as a core medium of the transformation of really existing socialism into neoliberal capitalism. In particular, it describes how - through privatization - this ideology creates material effects in the housing sector, i.e. accumulation on the one side and dispossession on the other side of the class structure. Moreover, the article insists that the housing stock’s privatization after 1990 happened in relation with the housing politics of state socialism, which allowed the existence of three types of property on housing. The creation of a new private housing fund was tied to post-socialist primitive accumulation resulted from the privatization of state enterprises and from the investment of profit obtained in the due process into real estate businesses. After some introductory ideas about ideologies and housing politics, the article discusses the privatization of housing and the creation of the private housing stock as central pillars of capitalist political economy. The description of some features of housing production and personal ownership of dwellings in state socialism is followed by an account on the promotion of privatization after 1990 by local-nationaltransnational actors using the example of the city of Cluj. The last chapter of the article concludes on the process of transformation of state socialism into neoliberal capitalism through the politics of housing sustained by the ideology of economic liberalism.
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Recent research on Roma stigmatisation has tended to focus on the marginal socioeconomic and spatial position of Roma within European societies with poverty, persistent inequalities and sub-standard housing conditions (e.g. ghettoization) emphasised in highlighting their differential treatment. Central to such accounts are group images and stereotypes of Roma as "benefit scroungers" and/or "beggars" lacking notions of self-restraint and social responsibility. This body of research is hugely important in contributing to an understanding of the complex dynamics of marginalization and stigmatisation for poor Roma households. Yet not all Roma are characterised by poverty and economic hardship. This paper explores the neglected experiences of wealthy Roma within urban spaces in Romania. It draws on empirical evidence from interviews with Roma families, leaders and local authorities. Our analysis exposes the way in which Roma are vehemently stigmatised regardless of their economic position or housing circumstances and highlights deep, underlying sentiments towards them within wider Romanian society. We critique Wacquant's concept of territorial stigmatisation in applying it to wealthy groups outwith typical areas of relegation (e.g. Roma ghettos) within the specific urban context of post-socialist Romania. While our analysis points to the internalization of stigma, we also identify distinct defensive strategies employed by wealthy Roma in countering and avoiding stigmatisation. We suggest that a focus on the neglected spaces of wealthy Roma groups can: facilitate a more comprehensive understanding of the distinct urban power relations that shape Roma stigmatisation; reveal how this long-term process has recently been accentuated within Europe alongside a more overt populist, anti-Roma political agenda; and contribute to the development and refinement of Wacquant’s thesis.
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What is an urban atmosphere? How can we differentiate an ‘atmosphere’ from other facets of urban consciousness and experience? This essay explores some of the wider cultural, political, and philosophical connotations of atmospheres as a focal point for critical reflections on space and subjectivity. The idea of an ‘affective atmosphere’ as a distinctive kind of mood or shared corporeal phenomenon is considered in relation to recent developments in phenomenology, extended conceptions of agency, and new understandings of materialism. The essay draws in particular on the changing characteristics of air and light to reflect on different forms of sensory experience and their wider cultural and political connotations. The argument highlights some of the tensions and anomalies that permeate contemporary understandings of urban atmospheres.
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Following the case of 100 Roma people evicted from their home in the centre of Bucharest in September 2014, the article looks at evictions and practices of resistance from the ground-up, without assuming a-priori what a politics of resistance may look like in Bucharest or elsewhere. The aim is to understand eviction and resistance as part of the same continuum of home unmaking-remaking, and to fully take into account the role of non-humans and urban atmospheres in the process. In this sense, the article analyses the case of Bucharest through two, interconnected, affective atmospheric: that of uncanniness, which allowed for the resistant Roma body to articulate its demands; and that of inertia, which emerged from the imbrication of home-less people’s street life and gradually rendered resistance more difficult to assemble. Paying attention to these post-human entanglements, the article critically contributes to academic and non-academic debates on occupation, displacement and urban activism, with the aim to strengthen our capacity to imagine alternative strategies of resistance.
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In the prolonged aftermath of the economic crisis, urban citizenship is becoming nuanced with a multifarious array of quotidian grassroots organisational forms, aiming at re-appropriating essential right to the city, such as housing. In the case of the Italian capital city, Rome, squatting has become a widespread practice for both native and migrant dwellers for tackling with conditions of severe housing deprivation and lack of public housing, despite the punitive legislative context. This paper contends that their subjective composition, and the forms of organisation and life stemming from squatting nowadays, can contribute to updating Lefebvre’s definition of right to the city, and his critique of the citizen as the enfranchised subject for exerting a transformative power over the urban environment. In order to ground this argument, I will discuss the evidences collected in two big housing occupations located in the marginalised borough of Tor Sapienza, Metropoliz and four Stelle Occupato.
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Many scholars have asked themselves if and for how long they should use the concept of “post-socialism.” We review some ways in which post-socialism is no longer used productively and suggest that one way to analyze the enduring effects of socialism (a useful role for the concept of post-socialism) is by paying attention to how economic and political elites in Central and Eastern Europe continue to use the ghost of state-socialism as the ultimate boogeyman, disciplinary device, and “ideological antioxidant.” We call this blend of post-1989 anti-communism and neoliberal hegemony “zombie socialism,” and we argue that it is a key component of contemporary capitalism in Central and Eastern Europe. We illustrate briefly some cases of zombie socialism, using data such as EU 28 statistics on labor, wages, work–life (im)balance, income tax, housing, and housing policies to show the effects of this hegemonic discourse. The presence of zombie socialism for almost three decades in Central and Eastern Europe made some of these countries “more” capitalist than countries with longer capitalist traditions in Europe. We join others who have suggested that there is nothing to transition any longer, as the “transition” is long over.
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Often referred to as ?tent cities?, tent encampments have, in the last 10 years, proliferated within and around US cities on a scale unprecedented since the Great Depression. Accounts of these informal dwellings tend to focus on the symbolism of the camp, the function of the camp as safe zone, or the camp as a site of apolitical or prepolitical identity formation. This article attempts to broaden and deepen the conversation on informal dwellings in the US by focusing on the tent encampment as a site of creative political agency and experimentation. Drawing upon a body of work referred to by some as ?subaltern urbanism?, I examine how everyday practices of camp management produce localized forms of citizenship and governmentality through which ?homeless? residents resist stereotypes of pathology and dependence, reclaim their rational autonomy, and recast deviance as negotiable difference in the production of governmental knowledge. Consideration of these practices, I argue, opens up the possibility of a of a view of encampments that foregrounds the agency of the homeless in the production of new political spaces and subjectivities.
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What is the difference between the terms 'Roma', 'gypsies', 'nomads' and 'Travellers'? These are a few of the names that are used to refer to the Roma minority in scholarly research, political speeches and the media. Most of the Romani studies literature on Roma labels and the state's categorisation underscores how these often derogatory denominations reflect the widespread stigmatisation of these people and, in turn, perpetuate regimes of exclusion and segregation. However, this literature implicitly conceives of language as purely functional to exclusion, overlooking the ways in which the construction and use of these labels have also created the conditions for the emergence of practices of resistance. This limitation is mainly due to the fact that these works follow a Foucauldian approach, which tends to overemphasise the importance of dominant discourses subjecting the individual, and to downplay the presence of generative and creative practices. I suggest integrating this approach with the notion of 'assemblage' as developed by Deleuze and Guattari, which entails both ordering and territorialising dynamics together with destabilising moves. By adopting this lens, the paper discusses the effects of two different Roma naming assemblages: on the one hand, the glossary published by the Council of Europe (CoE) that carefully defines and differentiates all the terms used for the Roma, and, on the other, the French and Italian governments' discourses that ambiguously lump together all these different denominations. Although at first sight it may appear that the latter bolsters discriminatory and segregating policies, while the former supports more inclusionary measures, by drawing on policy-documents analysis and in-depth interviews with pro-Roma advocacy group members, I show that both these naming assemblages actually produce exclusionary as well as resisting effects. © 2016 Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers).
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This paper examines the social life and sociality of urban infrastructure. Drawing on a case study of land occupations and informal settlements in the city of Belo Horizonte in Brazil, where the staples of life such as water, electricity, shelter and sanitation are co-constructed by the poor, the paper argues that infrastructures – visible and invisible – are deeply implicated in not only the making and unmaking of individual lives, but also in the experience of community, solidarity and struggle for recognition. Infrastructure is proposed as a gathering force and political intermediary of considerable significance in shaping the rights of the poor to the city and their capacity to claim those rights. © The Author(s) 2014 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav.
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This paper draws on the theoretical work of Norbert Elias and Loïc Wacquant in seeking to understand the stigmatized and marginalized position of the Roma population within Europe. The paper argues that the persistent persecution of Roma, reflected in social policy, cannot be understood without reference to long-term social processes, which shape the nature of the asymmetric power relations between Roma and non-Roma. Elias's theory of established-outsider relations is applied at the intra-state European level in arguing that Roma constitute a cross-border "outsider" group; with their intense stigmatization explained and perpetuated by a common set of collective fantasies which are maintained through complex group processes of disidentification, and which result in Roma being seen as of lesser human worth. Wacquant's theoretical concept of the "ghetto" is then drawn upon to show how the manifestations of stigmatization for the stigmatized are at once psychological, social and spatial. The paper suggests that the synthesis of the two theorists' relational, theoretical concepts allows for an approach that can expose the way in which power is exercised within and through group relations. Such an approach emphasizes the centrality of the interdependence between Roma and non-Roma, and the fluctuating power balance that characterises that relationship across time and space. The paper concludes that, while existing research focused on policy and outcomes is useful in understanding the negative contemporary experiences of Roma populations, they need to be understood in the context of wider social processes and historical continuities in seeking to elucidate how these processes shape policies and contribute to social and spatial marginalization.
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This paper aims to show how Van Wel's theory of problem figuration, Carlen's concept of imaginary systems and Zizek's notion of cynical ideology may advance our theoretical and empirical understanding of the contemporary construction of housing policy narratives and embedded localised housing practise. Applying this theoretical framework to a case study of responses to homelessness in Scotland and further illustrative examples from the UK and the USA, the paper examines how housing practise is constituted through different imaginaries of housing systems. These are based on fictional as well as rational elements, located within a form of cynical ideology whereby actors act ‘as if’ the realities of the present housing crisis are distanced from the imagined intended functioning of housing systems. This masks alternative social realities and denies an explicitly articulated politics of housing which would reveal new processes of capitalism, generational and class realignments and a reframing of the role of government itself.
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Through an analysis of ethnographic data gathered from two communities using Bucharest's urban infrastructures, we argue that studies that privilege the large-scale analyses may be enriched by paying closer attention to small-scale, non-structural factors that create local citizenship claims and local forms of belonging to the city. The template of neoliberal transformations of urban networks acquires unexpected forms at the infra-city scale, which may be fruitfully approached ethnographically. We begin with a historical overview of networked infrastructures during socialism and postsocialism in Bucharest. We then describe and contrast two of the many forms of belonging and exclusion from the city—grounded in infrastructural connections and disconnections—that we call ‘maintenance and repair citizenship' and ‘incomplete citizenship'.
Book
Going beyond race-blind approaches to spatial segregation in Europe, Racial Cities argues that race is the logic through which stigmatized and segregated "Gypsy urban areas" have emerged and persisted after World War II. Building on nearly a decade of ethnographic and historical research in Romania, Italy, France and the UK, Giovanni Picker casts a series of case studies into the historical framework of circulations and borrowings between colony and metropole since the late nineteenth century. By focusing on socio-economic transformations and social dynamics in contemporary Cluj-Napoca, Pescara, Montreuil, Florence and Salford, Picker detects four local segregating mechanisms, and comparatively investigates resemblances between each of them and segregation in French Rabat, Italian Addis Ababa, and British New Delhi. These multiple global associations across space and time serve as an empirical basis for establishing a solid bridge between race critical theories and urban studies. Racial Cities is the first comprehensive analysis of the segregation of Romani people in Europe, providing a fine-tuned and in-depth explanation of this phenomenon. While inequalities increase globally and poverty is ever more concentrated, this book is a key contribution to debates and actions addressing social marginality, inequalities, racist exclusions, and governance. Thanks to its dense yet thoroughly accessible narration, the book will appeal to scholars, undergraduate and postgraduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and equally to activists and policy makers, who are interested in areas including: Race and Racism, Urban Studies, Governance, Inequalities, Colonialism and Postcolonialism, and European Studies.
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This book offers a close look at forced evictions, drawing on empirical studies and conceptual frameworks from both the Global North and South. It draws attention to arenas where multiple logics of urban dispossession, violence and insecurity are manifest, and where wider socio-economic, political and legal struggles converge. The authors highlight the need to apply emotional and affective registers of dispossession and insecurity to the socio-political and financial economies driving forced evictions across geographic scales. The chapters each consider the distinct urban logics of precarious housing or involuntary displacements that stretch across London, Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai and Colombo. A timely addition to existing literature on urban studies, this collection will be of great interest to policy makers and scholars of human geography, development studies, and sociology.
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One of the greatest challenges during the enlargement process of the European Union towards the east is how the issue of the Roma or Gypsies is tackled. This ethnic minority group represents a much higher share by numbers, too, in some regions going above 20% of the population. This enormous social and political problem cannot be solved without proper historical studies like this book, the most comprehensive history of Gypsies in Romania. It is based on academic research, synthesizing the entire historical Romanian and foreign literature concerning this topic, and using lot of information from the archives. The main focus is laid on the events of the greatest consequence. Special attention is devoted to aspects linked to the long history of the Gypsies, such as slavery, the process of integration and assimilation into the majority population, as well as the marginalization of Gypsies, which has historic roots. The process of emancipation of Gypsies in the mid-19th century receives due treatment. The deportation of Gypsies to Transnistria during the Antonescu regime, between 1942-1944, is reconstructed in a special chapter. The closing chapters elaborate on the policy toward Gypsies in the decades after the Second World War that explain for the latest developments and for the situation of this population in today’s Romania.
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This article uses the case of anti-eviction politics to examine the urban land question. Following the ideas and practices of the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign and its global interconnections, it traces the potentialities and limits of poor people’s movements as they battle displacement and enact a politics of emplacement. In doing so, it seeks to expand existing understandings of dispossession. Drawing on critical race studies and postcolonial theory, the article pays attention to the relationship between property and personhood in the context of long histories of racial exclusion and colonial domination. It asks: what politics of home and land is possible outside the grid of secure possession and sovereign self? The work of the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign points to how various modes of collectivism can be asserted through practices of occupation as well as through global frameworks of human rights. Challenging the secure categories of property and personhood through which liberalism is constituted, such politics is attuned to the present history of racial banishment but is also subject to aspirations of resolution and possession.
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The paper introduces Gibson-Graham’s conceptualization of the “politics of possibilities” to housing studies in order to reveal how alternatives to the neoliberal housing model can be practiced here and now through the action of social movements. Centred on the main current Spanish social movement around housing, the Plataforma de los Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH), the paper shows how Gibson-Graham’s conceptualization, built around three moments (the “politics of language”; the “politics of the subject”; the “politics of collective action”) offers the possibility to understand the main political importance of subject and place as drivers of change and practice of alternative models. Indeed, the paper shows how the core of PAH’s political repertoire has consisted in disrupting the neoliberal model of “personal responsibilization” in order to set a variegated model of housing. The proliferation of the PAH all around the Spanish country and the politicization it favoured raise important questions for Spanish contemporary politics.
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The extent to which certain kinds of people are inundated with toxins, pollutants, bacteria, viruses, violence, and disaster is well documented. The various ways in which the extension of urbanization as a planetary phenomenon has refigured geographies of sustenance is also well established. This article focuses, instead, on exploring the interfacial oscillations among that which is experienced as habitable or uninhabitable, as a kind of regionalizing of relationships between life and nonlife. It looks at how possibilities of living disappear and reappear, often in the least expected situations and circumstances, and at how inhabitation itself becomes increasingly precarious through various devices and calculations deployed in order to guarantee it. Drawing upon decades of research and program development in urban Africa and Southeast Asia, the article explores some of ways in which the habitable and uninhabitable are redescribed in terms of each other and considers how this redescription could be used to formulate more judicious modalities of viable urban development, as urbanization itself seems to posit increased dangers to the viability of many lives.
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Relationality is a persistent concern of socio-spatial theory, increasingly invoked in geographical scholarship. We bring geographical scholarship on relationality to bear on relational poverty studies, an emergent body of work that challenges mainstream approaches to conceptualizing, explaining, researching and acting upon poverty. We argue that relationality scholarship provides ontological, theoretical, and epistemological interventions that extend prior relational poverty work. We synthesize these three elements to develop an explicitly geographical relationality and show how this framework offers a politics of possibility for knowing and acting on poverty in new ways.
Book
In this, the first book-length study of the cultural and political geography of squatting in Berlin, Alexander Vasudevan links the everyday practices of squatters in the city to wider and enduring questions about the relationship between space, culture, and protest. Focuses on the everyday and makeshift practices of squatters in their attempt to exist beyond dominant power relations and redefine what it means to live in the city Offers a fresh critical perspective that builds on recent debates about the "right to the city" and the role of grassroots activism in the making of alternative urbanisms Examines the implications of urban squatting for how we think, research and inhabit the city as a site of radical social transformation Challenges existing scholarship on the New Left in Germany by developing a critical geographical reading of the anti-authoritarian revolt and the complex geographies of connection and solidarity that emerged in its wake Draws on extensive field work conducted in Berlin and elsewhere in Germany.
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This paper explores the recent resurgence of occupation-based practices across the globe, from the seizure of public space to the assembling of improvised protest camps. It re-examines the relationship between the figure of occupation and the affirmation of an alternative ‘right to the city’. The paper develops a critical understanding of occupation as a political process that prefigures and materializes the social order which it seeks to enact. The paper highlights the constituent role of occupation as an autonomous form of urban dwelling, as a radical politics of infrastructure and as a set of relations that produce common spaces for political action.
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City Life from Jakarta to Dakar focuses on the politics incumbent to this process - an "anticipatory politics" - that encompasses a wide range of practices, calculations and economies. As such, the book is not a collection of case studies on a specific theme, not a review of developmental problems, nor does it marshal the focal cities as evidence of particular urban trends. Rather, it examines how possibilities, perhaps inherent in these cities all along, are materialized through the everyday projects of residents situated in the city and the larger world in very different ways.
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This article addresses the spatialization and racialization of social exclusion in the post-socialist Romania incorporated into the neoliberal global regime of the 2000s, by analyzing the social and cultural formation of Pata-Rât from the city of Cluj as a case of advanced marginality (Wacquant, 2008) alongside with references to other instances of Roma marginalization identified by the means of the SPAREX research. Since I am addressing social exclusion as a form of injustice including material deprivation, cultural stigmatization and denial of social participation, the analyzed cases allow me to contribute on theorizing about how - in a post-socialist order, due to processes of neoliberalization and racialization - economic injustices (such as exploitation, marginalization, deprivation) interlink with cultural/recognition injustices like cultural domination, non-recognition, stigmatization and disrespect (Fraser, 2004), and how they are related to the political dimension of justice that is representation (Fraser, 2007), or to the way in which particular categories of people, like marginalized Roma are excluded from decision-making and from the political and social body of the city/country. In line with the general approach of the SPAREX research, my analysis is a contextual inquiry and instead of describing advanced marginality through Roma characteristics it addresses processes of ghettoization.
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Cities in Relations advances a novel way of thinking about urban transformation by focusing on transnational relations in the least developed countries. Examines the last 20 years of urban development in Hanoi, Vietnam, and in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; Considers the ways in which a city's relationships with other places influences its urban development; Provides fresh ideas for comparative urban studies that move beyond discussions of economic and policy factors; Offers a clear and concise narrative accompanied by more than 45 photos and maps.
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Inspired by postcolonial critiques, urban studies today is characterized by conceptual and methodological experimentation in pursuit of a more global approach to understanding cities. The challenge is to develop methods and theoretical practices which allow conceptual innovation to emerge from any urban situation or urbanization process, sustaining wider conversations while insisting that concepts are open to revision. This maps well on to the core methodological problematic of comparison. Mindful of the strong limits to comparison presented by conventional quasi-scientific methods, this paper sets out the basis for a reformatted comparative method. A new grounding for comparison is proposed, specific to the field of the urban, and a new typology of tactics for undertaking urban comparative research is suggested. The paper weaves together classic approaches and more recent innovations in comparison from within urban studies with a wider philosophical analysis of the issues at stake in reframing the architecture of comparison. The paper stands as an invitation to practise global urban studies differently – comparatively – but also to practise comparison differently, in a way that opens urban studies to a more global repertoire of potential insights. The paper develops this invitation and methodological quest through Marxist political-economy; through actually-existing vernacular comparative practices of urban studies; and through insights gleaned from Gilles Deleuze’s philosophical project. The last section of the paper explains how this new vocabulary of comparative method can be put to work through a review of some recent experiments in the field of global urban studies.
Article
After 1990, Romania privatized and restituted to the pre-communist owners its state owned housing. This led to a super-home ownership pattern and to a severe shrinking social housing sector. With thousands of people evicted and with no public investments in the social housing sector, Bucharest is among the cities with greatest number of people in Romania who need support for housing. This article offers an account of the linkages between eviction, housing restitution and the lack of involvement of the local public institution into social housing. I describe the political and administrative practices that prevent the emergence of efficient social housing programs. I move between scales, ranging from national, municipal and street dynamics, in order to describe and understand a recent case of eviction in Bucharest. With little to no support from the public authorities, more than 50 people have been living on the streets as a form of protest against Bucharest’s administration which promotes neo-liberalism and is complicit to furthering the poverty of the poor households.
Article
As the world increasingly urbanizes, the imaginaries, conceptions and politics of urban density will become increasingly urgent for research, policy, practice and activism. Density is a keyword in the history of how the city has been conceived and understood, and is firmly back on the global urban agenda. However, we lack sustained studies of how the geographies of density have been defined, lived, and contested. This paper develops a topological approach to urban density, considers key ways in which density has been politicized, and examines an emerging research area that understands the life and politics of density as ‘intensive heterogeneities’.
Article
Rather than being sedentary strata of urban existence, the urban poor move in and out of heterogeneous transformations, becoming a body of critical experimentation in ongoing calibrations of circulation and emplacement. They are sometimes the “wild cards” of urbanization itself, less excluded from rights and livelihood or a reserve surplus of wasted lives than vehicles for both conjoining and disrupting clearly delineated sectors, territories, and policies. Reviewing various dynamics of local economic practice, provisioning systems, and the built environment in Jakarta, in this article I explore the ambiguous presence of the poor in contemporary urban systems of the so-called global south. © 2015 by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. All rights reserved.
Article
This paper emerges from an ethnography of the economic and cultural life of Rye Lane, an intensely multi-ethnic street in Peckham, South London. The effects of accelerated migration into London are explored through the reshaping and diversification of its interior, street and city spaces. A ‘trans-ethnography’ is pursued across the compendium of micro-, meso- and macro-urban spaces, without reifying one above the other. The ethnographic stretch across intimate, collective and symbolic city spaces serves to connect how the restrictions and circuits of urban migration have different impacts and expressions in these distinctive but interrelated urban localities. The paper argues for a trans-ethnography that engages within and across a compendium of urban localities, to understand how accelerated migration and urban ‘super-diversity’ transform the contemporary global city.
Article
Combining statistical and ethnographic analyses, this article explores the prevalence and ramifications of eviction in the lives of the urban poor. A quantitative analysis of administrative and survey data finds that eviction is commonplace in inner-city black neighborhoods and that women from those neighborhoods are evicted at significantly higher rates than men. A qualitative analysis of ethnographic data based on fieldwork among evicted tenants and their landlords reveals multiple mechanisms propelling this discrepancy. In poor black neighborhoods, eviction is to women what incarceration is to men: a typical but severely consequential occurrence contributing to the reproduction of urban poverty.
Article
Much has been said, yet little remains known, about the impacts of the changes associated with post-socialist transition on housing inequalities in metropolitan Central and Eastern Europe. To some extent, this depends on the scarcity of ‘hard evidence’ about the socialist epoch against which the subsequent developments may be gauged. Based on a case study of Bucharest, the Romanian capital and one of the region’s major cities, this study investigates various lines of housing inequality using data from a 20 % sample of the national censuses of 1992 and 2002. With only minor changes having taken place since the revolutionary events of late 1989, the year 1992 provides an accurate picture of the housing inequalities inherited from the socialist epoch, whereas the new societal order had largely been established by 2002. We use linear regression and binary logistic regression modeling to identify the factors that predict living space and level of facilities. The results suggest that the first decade of transition did not exert any major influences on the housing inequalities inherited from socialism, with the exception of notable improvements at the very top of the social pyramid. This finding is at odds with the literature that highlights the (suggested) effects of socio-economic polarization on the residential structure of cities after socialism. However, the results from 1992 indicate that housing was segmented along socio-economic lines already under socialism, and perhaps more so than one would have expected in the light of the literature on housing inequalities during this period.
Article
In this article I offer some critical reflections on the central analytical and political/policy issues emerging the special issue of Cities focused on the Right To The City Alliance’s report We Call These Projects Home (WCTPH). I identify three conceptual threads running through the contributions to the special issue: stigma, grief, and ‘emplacement’, and I want to argue that a focus on all three is of fundamental importance in understanding the contemporary plight of the working class under the urbanisation of neoliberalism, and in informing possible strategies of resistance. I conclude with a critique of policy-driven housing research, and suggest that a highly critical focus on concentrations of affluence – including exploring the possibilities for dispersing the rich – is needed in order to support grassroots base-building endeavours like the WCTPH report.