Launching “Beyond Inhabitation: A Collective Study Lab”

Today, after a year of preparation, we are launching our “Beyond Inhabitation: A Collective Study Lab” based at DIST in Turin, Italy.

This is our beautiful website: https://beyondinhabitation.org

Through the Lab, we aim to provide an infrastructure to investigate how inhabitation is re-worked from the ground across geographies in everyday life endurances that can morph, often silently, into struggles against contemporary and historical forms of dispossession. Activities will include collective study and writing; an international seminar series; extended working groups; and a program of activists and scholars in residence.

The Lab is co-directed by Michele Lancione and AbdouMaliq Simone, and its core team comprises nine Post-doctoral Research Fellows based in Turin. It also features an outstanding international Steering Committee, made up of 10 leading scholars of our time and a group of Turin Associates based at our hosting department (DIST).

Much work of love and joy has gone into preparing this Lab and its future activities. Please browse our website to know more about us, and follow us on Twitter to keep posted about our forthcoming events and opportunities. You can also subscribe to our blog to receive updates, here: https://beyondinhabitation.org/blog/

If you’d like to get in touch, please drop us a line at info@beyondinhabitation.org. We look forward to hearing from you.

Michele Lancione and AbdouMaliq Simone, for The Beyond Inhabitation Lab’s Team

The Lab is hosted at DIST, Polytechnic of Turin
Supported by ERC grant n. 851940 (PI: Lancione)

Seminars in Turin with Ash Amin (20 April) and Colin McFarlane (21 April), zoom links available

Please join Francesco Chiodelli, Camillo Boano, Francesca Governa and yours truly for our forthcoming seminars at DIST in Turin with two very distinguished guests:

  • 20 April 4pm CET, Ash Amin on “Space/Subjectivity”
  • 21 April 4pm CET, Colin McFarlane with his new book, “Fragments of the city”
To attend Ash’s talks, please register at: https://polito-it.zoom.us/…/tZMrdOusrjgsE92BWjFp-Shpl4…

Please feel free to circulate the fliers below.

All welcome!

New paper in Antipode: Inhabiting dispossession in the post-socialist city

My new paper in Antipode took years to write. Since the time in which I did the archival and ethnographic research underpinning it much life, death, pandemic, and international moving happened… but I hope I was finally able to give justice to that material.

The paper is open-access at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/anti.12821

It builds on my previous research around #race #class #housing #resistance in #Bucharest, and it expands on crucial Romanian scholarship to offer a trans-Atlantic dialogue around the (un)makings of #urban #racialised #dispossession.

I am thankful to my comrades Frontul Comun pentru Dreptul la Locuire and CARUSEL, to my colleagues and friends Bogdan (Diana Bogdan), Robert and Alina Stoiculescu in Bucharest, to the anonymous reviewers and to the Antipode board.
I am also very much thankful to a number of Romanian scholars to which I am indebted for their friendship and writings, including Liviu Chelcea, Eniko Vincze, Marian Ursan, Veda Popovici, Ioana Florea, George Zamfir, Zamfi Irina, Catalin Berescu, and the quasi-Romanian like myself Erin MC ElRoy!

Thanks also to the Urban studies foundation for supporting part of the archival/ethnographic work and to the ERC for supporting additional research & writing.

Inhabiting Dispossession in the Post-Socialist City: Race, Class, and the Plan, in Bucharest, Romania
Abstract

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.

Joining dock workers in Genova for a public talk and demonstration against the war industries

If you are in Genoa this Thursday 31st March, I will be at a demonstration and public debate with the comrades of the Collettivo Autonomo Lavoratori Portuali thanks to a very kind invitation from them.

The comrades of CALP have been striking for years to stop, among others, the Saudi ships that pass through the port of Genoa to bring weapons to Yemen. Some of them, for their anti-fascism and for their anti-militarism have also been prosecuted, as criminals, by the local judiciary.

I will bring my solidarity, and talk about Fortress Europe, Frontex, armaments and the role of Universities in these industries of death.

 

New proofs of the involvement of Frontex in refugees push-backs – What is Polito doing with the contract?

Thanks to the Spiegel and, in Italy, to Luca Rondi at Altreconomia, we have now even more proofs of how Frontex is engaging in the violent pushback of migrants at EU’s frontiers.

On the basis of their work, I have written again to the Polytechnic of Turin’s Chancellor asking for clarity on our direct involvement with the Agency (back story, here) and, in particular, to the decision of the Polytechnic’s Senate not to rescind our contract for the production of maps to Frontex, but to pursue it simply by inserting a ‘clause’ in the agreement that should bind the Politecnico and #Frontex to respect human rights… (see here).

Turin, 18th March 2022

Dearest Chancellor,

Dearest Pro-Chancellor,

Dear Director and Vice-Directors of DIST, and representatives of Full Professors in the Academic Senate,

I am writing to receive clarification regarding the Frontex affair, on which the Polytechnic Senate expressed its opinion on 14 December 2021. Three months have passed since the resolution that provides for the inclusion of a so-called “binding clause” related to the observance of “respect for human and fundamental rights” both by the “researchers” and the “agency” involved in the agreement “Frontex OP/403/2020/DT”. If possible, I would like to understand a) whether this clause has been included; b) if it has been, how this has happened; c) if it has been, what guarantees and monitoring arrangements for compliance have been put in place.

I know that the last few weeks have seen your people, and our Athenaeum, taking action to offer support to refugees caused by the Russian conflict in Ukraine. However, it is important to emphasise that there can not be first and second-class refugees. The Frontex issue clearly draws attention to other conflicts (Syrian, first and foremost) and other geopolitical realities (such as the Sub-Saharan area) that we cannot ignore – especially when we engage, as DIST and Politecnico, in services with an Agency that has clearly, and repeatedly, violated the “human and fundamental rights of people”.

You will have read about the caos (Spiegel’s word) in which Frontex finds itself following the latest, recent revelations about its modus operandi. In particular, I would like to draw your attention to this new, damning evidence of Frontex’s active involvement in the cover-up of push-back operations in the open sea off the Greek coast.

Beyond personal opinions, and the interpretation that each of us has of the migrant “issue” and of the work of the EU and its agencies, there is at the very least an image problem in associating this Polytechnic with the work of Frontex. The consequences of our involvement with Frontex are something that no ‘clause’ can bind to change. We need to dissociate ourselves firmly, and urgently, with the work of such Agency.

Awaiting your kind reply, I send my best regards.

Michele Lancione

Full Professor of Economic and Political Geography
DIST, Polytechnic and University of Turin
Visiting Professor of Urban Studies, Urban Institute, University of Sheffield
PI, ERC Starting Grant “Inhabiting Radical Housing”.
Editor, The Radical Housing Journal | Corresponding Editor, IJURR

 

CfP RGS-IBG 2022: Housing and inhabitation: situated geographies of intersectional struggles (abstract by 22/03)

Housing and inhabitation: situated geographies of intersectional struggles

Organised by: Abdoumaliq Simone, Oluwafemi Olajide, Daniela Morpurgo, Michele Lancione, and Chiara Cacciotti

Three interlocking processes are redefining what it means to inhabit the planet and its cities: Rising and expansive urbanisation (+2.8 billion people living in cities by 2050); widespread unequal access to decent and secure dwellings (1.6 billion people currently living in inadequate housing, and millions violently evicted every year globally); and responses by local communities in the face of these processes (in struggles that often include intersecting racial and gender injustices, violent bordering practices, problems of climate change and its management, and other paradigmatic challenges of our time). In this session, we are interested in hosting cutting-edge contributions confronting these processes and questioning the intersection of ‘housing’ and ‘inhabitation’. How are urbanites re-doing inhabitation through mundane struggles against historical and contemporary forms of dispossession?

We are particularly keen to hear from scholars who transcend the remit of conventional ‘comparative’ urban approaches, and those who go beyond the rubric of Western literatures and approaches for registering and understanding ‘housing struggles’ (Lancione, 2020; Simone, 2018; Oswin, 2020). To discuss and appreciate the propositional politics of struggles tackling housing as a gateway for wider forms of liberation, a situated understanding of history, power-geometries and longitudinal forms of dispossession is required (Massey, 1994; Roy, 2017; Rolnik, 2019). We welcome contributors who propose works that are both grounded empirically and historically/geographically, and we will give prominence to those writing from the margins of Anglophone academia. Particular attention will be paid to works grounded in decolonial, critical race, feminist and queer approaches to urban and housing struggles.

Key themes of this session include:

I. Empirically grounded conceptualisation of the contemporary struggle for inhabitation

II. Historical reconstructions of intersectional urban housing struggles

III. Ethnographic account of forms of racialised dispossession and related politics of resistance

Session organisers will work toward the preparation of a special issue on these themes for a leading international journal in urban geography. To this end, and to facilitate meaningful conversation among participants, contributors commit to sending us full draft papers at least two weeks in advance of the conference. We offer help to non-native English speakers for production of their full papers.

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words, along with the title, author names and whether you plan to attend in person or virtually by March 22, 2022 to Professor Michele Lancione (michele.lancione@polito.it) and Dr Daniela Morpurgo (daniela.morpurgo@polito.it). We welcome any questions or requests for assistance.

Sources cited.
Lancione M (2020) Radical housing: on the politics of dwelling as difference. International Journal of Housing Policy 20(2):1–17
Massey D (1994) A global sense of place. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press
Oswin N (2020) An other geography. Dialogues in Human Geography 10(1):9–18
Rolnik R (2019) Urban Warfare. Housing Under the Empire of Finance. New York: Verso
Roy A (2017) Dis/possessive collectivism: Property & personhood at city’s end. Geoforum 80:A1-11
Simone A (2018) Improvised Lives: Rhythms of Endurance in an Urban South. Cambridge: Polity press

 

 

Paper session at EASA 2022, Belfast, on ‘Inhabiting Liminality’ with Cacciotti and Simone

With Chiara Cacciotti and AbdouMaliq Simone we are organising a paper session at the forthcoming EASA conference, Belfast, 26-29 July 2022.

Inhabiting liminality. Housing precarity in its spatial, political and social dimensions

Abstracts by 21 March: https://nomadit.co.uk/conference/easa2022/p/11428

Short Abstract

This panel will discuss the condition of liminality related to housing precarity by questioning its conventional definition as a temporary in-betweenness, together with how it can become an example of social depotentiation or transform itself into collective political stances.

Long Abstract

Conventionally, anthropological understandings of ‘liminality’ define it as a condition of temporary in-betweenness, in which a transition to a differential state is assumed. In other disciplines – such as urban studies – the same notion is related for the most to describe so-called ‘marginal’ contexts. In this panel, we are interested in exploring differential and more nuanced ways of understanding ‘liminality’ beyond current readings. We are doing so, inspired by research that has looked at conditions of housing precarity in a processual and situated way (Baxter and Brickell 2014; Vasudevan 2015), where the ‘liminal’ and the ‘marginal’ cannot be simply defined by ‘transitionary processes’ and/or social exclusion (Thomassen 2014; Cacciotti 2020). With this we mean to explore those situations in which experiences of ‘housing precarity’ show that the ‘liminal’ is both a space of potential annihilation and dispossession, as well as a space that can be inhabited against prevailing forces (Lancione 2020; Simone 2016).

We are interested in contributions that situated experiences of precarious housing and their politics of liminality at the intersection of everyday experiences and longitudinal and structural processes of economic, cultural, societal and racial dispossession.

Through conceptual and empirical work (involving, for example, squats and other informal occupations, evictions, homeless centers, reception centers), this panel will shed light on how a localized liminal and precarious housing condition can become an example of social and economic depotentiation or transform itself into collective political stances.

Against all imperialism. Europe must open its borders

Much of what I think around Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine is contained is this powerful text from a group of Russian anarchists, appeared on CrimeThink.

I would only like to add two points. First, Western sanctions to Putin are a joke. The only one that could have meant something (on SWIFT) is too damaging to our financial extractivism, so it becomes a no-no.

Second, Europe left Ukraine alone, since 8 years already. Now the only priority must be toward Ukrainian refugees. No more camps. No more damming bureaucracy. No more unsafe routes and violence.

All borders opened, and full asylum, now!