London, WC1E 6EQ United Kingdom
A common struggle around the liberation of space has in recent years connected struggles against the neoliberal erosion of social life – from the Sisters Uncut occupations in Homerton and Peckham last summer to the recent transformation of an empty Oxford University building into a homeless shelter, from the tiny communist village of Marinaleda in Andalusia to migrant solidarity squats in Greece and student occupations all over the world.
At a time of ever-worsening crisis, people are claiming a right to their cities and towns and fighting back against housing precarity, rampant property speculation and the negative effects of urban redevelopment and regeneration. Their tactics include squatting and occupations as ways to remake urban space in the midst of the neoliberal city.
The Autonomous City by Alexander Vasudevan is the first popular history of squatting and the wider struggle for housing in Europe and North America — from Copenhagen’s Christiana ‘Free Town’ to the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Join Vasudevan, Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi, Izzy Kökzal and chair Dan Hancox as they chart the actions adopted by squatters, students and housing activists since the beginnings of squatting after the Second World War right up until the present day – and how we must, more than ever, reimagine the city as a site of radical social transformation.
Alexander Vasudevan is Associate Professor in Human Geography and Fellow, Christ Church College, Oxford University. He is the author of Metropolitan Preoccupations: The Spatial Politics of Squatting in Berlin and co-author of the forthcoming Geographies of Forced Eviction: Dispossession, Violence, Insecurity.
Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi is a journalist. Her work – on immigration and asylum across the European Union – has been shortlisted for the 2012 George Orwell Prize for Political Writing, the 2013 Speaking Together Media Award and the Orwell Prize 2015.
Izzy Kökzal is a founding member of Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth (HASL). Part of the London Coalition Against Poverty, HASL is a group of residents – many of them migrants – of Lambeth and Southwark (and beyond) who support each other with housing problems they face.
Dan Hancox is a journalist and the author of The Village Against the World and two ebooks: Kettled Youth and Utopia and the Valley of Tears.
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