On abolitionism and the detention and expulsion centres for migrants in Italy

In Italy, for migrants who do not request asylum, or for those to whom refugee status is denied, there are the Centri di Permanenza e Rimpatrio (CPR) (lit. Permanence and Repatriation Centres, once called Identification and Expulsion Centres). In these centres − which are essentially jails from which the asylum seeker cannot leave − individuals are restrained for a maximum of 18 months, without having committed any unlawful act, beyond not having the right document to be in the country. During this time, a judge needs to decide their fate. Either the asylum request, or any other favourable solution, is accepted, or the individuals are expelled from the country. Currently there are 9 CPR across Italy, with roughly 1,000 available places.

According to a study from a prominent Italian coalition in defence of civic rights, from June 2019 to May 2021, at least 6 individuals lost their lives while being detained in one of the ten CPRs across the peninsula. Thanks to the impressive investigative work of the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI), we know that the conditions of life in the CPR of the city where I work, Turin, defy any imagination. In their recent report, ASGI tells stories of an man with broken legs to whom the police denies even a simple crutch, obliging him to lay down constantly; another who shows proof of a rare blood diseases when admitted to the centre, and will have to wait 49 days before receiving any medical care; or the case of a third young man, who self-declares as a minor (therefore someone who could not be detained in a CPR) but is not believed, and is kept in the centre for 95 days, without explanation before he eventually decides to cut himself on his right arm.

Self-harm is one of the only way detained individuals in the Italian CPR can make a − often ephemeral − stand. The only year, continues ASGI, for which we have data related to these practices is 2011. In the Turin CPR that year, there were “156 episodes of self-harm, 100 of which were due to ingestion of medicines or foreign bodies, 56 of which due to stab wounds”. Material living conditions in the centre are of course part of the problem. ASGI reports that “The living spaces reserved for the inmates include 50-square meter modules, including bathrooms, where seven people live, eat and sleep.” It then continues describing in full the conditions of life in such modules:

“Each bedroom has an en suite bathroom, which is accessed directly from the room itself. Between the bedroom and the bathroom there is no door, nor are there any dividing doors inside the bathroom to separate the two squat toilets from the rest of the room where there are two washbasins and a shower. In other words, a few meters separate the toilets from the nearest beds and there is no element of furniture, such as doors or at least curtains, to ensure a minimum of privacy to those who use the services. This state of affairs is unacceptable, unjustified and non-compliant in terms of security.”

The Permanence and Repatriation Centres are part of the militarisation of society, of this war that is fought on and with the body of an ‘other’, the migrant and the asylum seeker. This ‘other’ is constituted ad-hoc, as a containable figure, not only in the sense of a person who can be imprisoned, but of a subject who is made to take the political, epistemic and material charge of the struggles of this world that we cannot and do not want to face.

And so a dispossessed subject is created with systematic hatred, confined in very Italian Lagers, which are then also new ‘asylums’: total institutions for people who come in healthy and go out with the mockery of a letter of departure, mad, sick, tired. If they get out and don’t commit suicide first.

Today, a piece of important news broke: the CPR of Milan has been seized by authorities, after months in which activists have worked hard to show the conditions of life in such a space (summed up in an another excellent report by ASGI). An operator of that CPR-lager testifies:

‘Synthetically I can say that it was a real lager, not even dogs are treated like that in kennels. […] Firstly, there is widespread use of psychotropic drugs given like candy and in high dosages. During the summer it could happen that soap, although present, was not given to the inmates, so in practice showers were not taken. They were prevented from talking to the lawyers. The food was very often expired, spoiled”.

From Australia to the UK, passing now through the signed agreement between Italy and Albania, it is customary practice for Western democracies to offload migrant detention centers to third countries, and to replicate the model of the CPR away from the eyes of activists and engaged lawyers. The only possible response here is #abolition.

Here the term, following critical Black praxis, does not simply signify closure – but invokes a total overhaul of the practices through which we (Italians, in this case) legitimise our sense of home and belonging, of habitation and dwelling. As I expand upon here, what needs to be abolished is the need to constitute an ‘other’ of ‘home’ for ‘home’ to stand in the first place. It is about fighting borders and their technologies. It is about refusing the colonization of bodies and subjects. CPRs need to be closed down now, not as an arrival point, but as a departure for further, more radical struggles.

Photo: Images from the ordinance testifying to the terrible conditions at the via Corelli Cpr in Milan (il manifesto)

Università & Militarizzazione in Palermo and in Messina

This weekend, we continue to talk about the relationship between #university and #militarisation, about #war, the intermingling of research and the military sector, and the ethics of university practice. This time in #Sicily!

– #Messina, Friday 1/12/23, 6:30 pm at the University of Messina with the excellent Antonio Mazzeo of the Observatory against the militarisation of schools

– #Palermo, Saturday 2/12/23, 5:30 pm at the Casa della Cooperazione with the fantastic Gabriella Palermo and Silvia di Meo (Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/6867626453297921)

Both events will be in Italian.

Book: https://www.ibs.it/universita-militarizzazione-duplice-uso-della-libro-michele-lancione/e/9791280495372



Beautiful presentations and debates in Turin on the Academy and the defense sector

What a beautiful evening yesterday in Turin! Among the hundreds of books in the wonderful Libreria Comunardi , we took the time to discuss my short essay on #university and #militarisation

With Francesca Governa, Luca Rondi of Altreconomia and Ada of Cambiare Rotta Torino and a lot of people, from many different realities, who are fed up with the spread of the military in our individual and collective lives.

The next day, I was also invited into an autonomous student assembly at Palazzina Einaudi, where, in a space occupied by students, we discussed the same issues. Moving forward!

Book: https://www.amazon.it/Universit%C3%A0-militarizzazione-duplice-libert%C3%A0-ricerca/dp/B0C44VM66Y

For a Liberatory Politics of Home | Out now with Duke University Press

After many years of work, For a Liberatory Politics of Home is now officially out at Duke University Press.

Can we imagine a ‘home’ that does not require the constitution & colonization of an alterity to stand?

In violent times, a text to question violent binaries, looking for a language of radical affirmations.


Thanks to Ananya and Raquel for the generous endorsements.

“Michele Lancione has given us a tremendous gift with this pathbreaking and brilliant book. His arguments will be of immense meaning for social movements concerned with housing justice, many of which are grappling with regimes of property and the affective politics of home. The study of housing and homelessness will not be the same.” — Ananya Roy, author of Poverty Capital: Microfinance and the Making of Development

“By mobilizing a new methodological, conceptual, and political grammar in which home and homelessness are not opposite but coherent expressions of a wider function of patriarchal and racialized processes of expulsions and extractions, this book offers a whole new perspective to imagine housing futures toward housing justice in which ‘housing precarity’ is not only a site for deprivation and relegation or a ‘problem to be fixed’ but can also perform a new politics of inhabitation.” — Raquel Rolnik, author of Urban Warfare: Housing under the Empire of Finance

And thanks, among many, to Courtney Berger at Duke for helping, Katherine Brickell for the close reading, Kiera Chapman for the boost, the Urban Institute and the Beyond Inhabitation Lab for nurturing, ERC Research for supporting, Colin McFarlane for cheering and supporting, AbdouMaliq Simone & Eleonora Leo Mignoli for inhabiting it with me.


Review of Università e Militarizzazione on il Manifesto


Il Manifesto ha pubblicato una bella recensione del mio libro Università e Militarizzazione sul numero di oggi, 11 novembre. Gennaro Avallone, che ringrazio di cuore per averla scritta, dice:

È evidente l’utilità di questo libro, che riavvia, dopo troppo tempo, l’attenzione sul rapporto tra università e mondo militare, sollecitando un lavoro di inchiesta collettiva, con l’obiettivo di capire quanto l’industria militare sia attiva negli atenei e ne stia orientando ricerca e logiche di pensiero.

La recensione si può leggere, in Italiano, a questo link:




Il Manifesto published a nice review of my book University and Militarisation in today’s issue, 11 November. Gennaro Avallone, whom I thank sincerely for writing it, says:

‘The usefulness of this book is evident, as it restarts, after too long, the attention on the relationship between the university and the military world, soliciting a collective enquiry work, with the aim of understanding how much the military industry is active in the universities and is orienting their research and thinking logics.

The review can be read, in Italian, at this link:


Keynote at ECRs Urban Studies Lisbon on the violence of the colonies of home

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing is right: settler #housing practice in #Palestine amounts to #domicide.

Yet, the destruction of the Palestinian homely by the hand of Israel is not just an aberration, but it is a foundation. Violence is not the ‘other’ of ‘home’, but it becomes the prime vehicle through which the ‘other’ necessary for the constitution of the colonisers’ home is created, in total destruction. Violence here, as Kotef would have it, becomes the object of the homely: the intimate function grounding the colonial home.

Today, I will open ECRs #urbanstudies #Lisbon on the impossible possibility of such homes, and many others.

Thanks Simone Tulumello and colleagues, for having me – https://tinyurl.com/mr3vu94w

Two public events in Bologna today 3 Nov: on housing (with PLAT & Lab) and on universities and the military

Today in Bologna, two moments for collective discussion on #housing, #domicile, #housingjustice & #war, #militarisation, #university.

– 2:30 pm, “Housing: a crossroads of struggles” an event co-organized by PLAT – Platform for Social Intervention and Beyond Inhabitation Lab (www.beyondinhabitation.org): https://www.facebook.com/events/1376025483313577/

– 7:00 pm, discussion based on my text #University and #Militarisation published by Eris Edizioni, at Libreria modo infoshop: https://www.facebook.com/events/2655636501260834

All welcome!

Beyond Inhabitation @ICCG 2023 in Mexico City

The week of 23-28 October Beyond Inhabitation Lab’s members moved to Mexico City to attend the 9th International Congress of Critical Geography. Lab members, Michele Lancione, Chiara Cacciotti, Daniela Morpurgo and Rodrigo Castriota, organized the panel Inhabiting Radical Housing: on the politics of inhabitation and intersectional struggles asking for contributions questioning the intersection between  ‘housing’ and ‘inhabitation’ to discuss the propositional politics of struggles tackling housing as a gateway for wider forms of liberation, power-geometries and longitudinal forms of dispossession. The two sessions proved extremely rich in content and debate, with scholars from a number of geographies offering nuanced analysis and theorisations of housing and its intersecting forms of injustice (and related struggles). Other Lab members, Mara Ferreri and Ana Vilenica together with other members of Radical Housing Journal, organized the panel Lexicons of Housing Struggles challenging and questioning the dominance of English language in “internationally valued” academic practice around housing, and fomenting processes of linguistic decolonization, internationalism and counter-generalization. Along with the organisation of the panels, each one presented individual papers in different panels. Michele Lancione presented a paper on the colonies of ‘home’. Chiara Cacciotti presented on the etymological politics of the lexicon of evictions. Daniela Morpurgo on the challenge of qualitative ethnographic research. While Chiara Iacovone and the former member Devra Waldman presented their work in the Lab’s panel respectively on the peripheral housing financialization in Eastern Europe and on housing-driven extended urbanization in Noida, India. Ana Vilenica presented as Radical Housing Journal collective a choral restitution of what the journal had achieved within emerging solution of radical resistance in the narrative of housing crisis, while Francesca Guarino presented her doctoral work on migrant people practices of repression and hospitality in the context of Palermo, Italy. The conference was extremely productive and well organised: congratulations to the ICCG team for having provided an excellent moment of scholarly and activist encounter for us all!