Getting Rid of Home (Essay for Y-Saatio)

This is a short essay that I have written for the volume Homelessness in 2030. Essays on possible futures, edited by Johanna Lassy and Saija Turunen, for the Y-Foundation (one of the key national developers of the Housing First principle in Finland). It is a provocation in and around ‘homelessness’ and the politics of ‘home’ that makes it possible. The full book is available for free at this page, while my contribution can also be downloaded here (and my academic research on this topic is mostly available here).

 

Getting Rid of Home

I cannot think of homelessness in 2030; of strategies and interventions; of more policymaking and expertise, without addressing the pressing issue of what and where ‘home’ is. The issue is as follows: if, under current conceptions and conditions of home, we have space for something like ‘home-lessness’, then we will never be able to get rid of that thing (‘homelessness’) without tackling the original problem – which is home itself. In the fact that home allows for its negation without altering its fundamental parameters lies the whole issue of what we traditionally conceive as ‘homelessness’. The lack of ‘home’ is very present within, ingrained in, home itself.

Home is an exclusionary act. It is made of walls and doors, which create control and allow the policing of a border. It is made of social relationships based on emotional bonding, which are carved out through exclusion (there is no bonding if there is no exclusion of others). It is constructed, in its material form, thanks to accumulations of capital that, in some form or other, are related to – and contribute to reproduce – systems of oppression. As many have shown, it also has internal exclusions, being filled with unbalanced gendered power relationships and paternalistic modes of breeding. In its most common physical representation – housing – home can quite easily be turned into an exploitative machine, used as a means of capital accumulation that has effects not only on tenants, but also on land values, urban development, and financial markets. It seems as if home is that construct that cuts across multiple dimensions of human life, as a machine that is capable of abstracting from those domains an autonomous function that is then able to reproduce itself in the longer term (it is what Deleuze and Guattari called an ‘abstract machine’). That machine is about extracting one form of existence from the magma of all possibilities, of all possible forms of existence. What I argue is that the possibility of that extraction, the bare primordial functioning of that machine, is carved around the possibility of its negation: home is home because it contains the possibility of not-being-at-home within itself. Home is a full bodied and multidimensional exclusionary act.

So, answering the question of what homelessness might be in 2030, in 3452, in 1861, means investigating the unformed matter that diagrams or sketches out the functioning of the universally accepted, mainstream, homing machine. How can one think of ending homelessness without ending this kind of home?

Further, what home does is more than enabling its negation from within, the creation of home-lessness as a space of existence upon which the whole exclusionary act can be sustained. Home and that negated space of -lessness are productive, because they are not only the site for the (re)production of material and cultural conditions, but also the nexus where subjects are (re)produced. In other words, home-lessness is matter of becoming. It is a non-linear process of subject-formation: one is not born homeless, one does not choose to be homeless, one does not end up being homeless. Everyone, within current systemics of home, endures a process of subject-formation that can be defined of ‘home-less’. The particularity of the socio-technical machines involved mean that even those with a house are not at ‘home’; not fully in-place; not really belonging in the fullest possible way.

The ‘theory’ of homelessness is, for the most part, concerned with making sure that this categorisation is used as a bordering tool to create a minority who are then defined as l’autre, the deviant other. This kind of mainstream normative theory knows nothing of the enduring process of subject-formation that makes home-lessness not an exception, but a true common: our shared experience of not being fully in-place. When mainstream theory speaks of ‘the transition’ from being a ‘normal’ dweller to being an ‘abnormal’ homeless person, it explains it as a matter of stages, of pre-explanatory traumas; it justifies it in terms of linear paths where, at a certain point, something ‘went wrong’ causing ‘homelessness’ to emerge. Cause and effect. But in reality, home-lessness is not a matter of cause and effect. Far from that! Home-lessness is about a process of subject-formation that cuts across sociological categorisations, social groups, classes. Rough sleeping is a traumatic intensification of that process: a dense cusp that is not set apart, but well within a whole pluriverse of intensities of ‘lessness’ that endure above, beyond, before, and after it.

The subject is suddenly kicked out of his or her house. Because s/he wasn’t paying. Because s/he couldn’t cope. Because s/he is ill, sick, addicted. The subject is kicked out of her house and seems to fall in-between. This is a space made of all sorts of relations and objects that the subject was not aware of before, when s/he was living in the fiction of ‘home’: soup kitchens, shelters, begging and the charity of strangers, sidewalks, tents, wet sleeping bags in abandoned buildings, nights, shadows and new fear of violence too. These things are not foreign, totally hidden away, but instead lie in-between a normalised form of everyday life under contemporary capitalism and its expelled version. But once we zoom out and plug into the micropolitics of our shared existences, is there a real distinction between the subject who falls and the one who does not? Is there a real distinction from the subject within and the one without home? I am not denying that there is a traumatic experiential difference, which is a matter of intensities, but there is not more than this. Both subjects never really left home.

Lessness for both starts before getting kicked out. It is beyond, above, before, and after the event of displacement, because it has to do with the substratum of our social lives. It has to do with the answer to the broader question of how we go about life; about how we decide to deal with the power and energy of life in its multiple forms. The power to love, to make connections, to create and destroy, to make ends meet, and more. The way these things are managed and the way they are reproduced is always matter of collective choices, conscious and unconscious in their makings. The mode of reproduction that we have chosen is just one of the ways to go about these things. Under this (capitalist) frame there is an individualistic mould that dominates and regiments all others. From the figure of the successful entrepreneur of the 19th century to contemporary consumer-based arguments about choice and free will, capitalism has (re)produced individualisation as our mainstream mode of assemblage and circulation, meticulously constructing the desire for victory, success, and affirmation into the backbone of each subject. Lessness is one of the substrates that emerges from this, and upon it home is assembled. This is a key assemblage of contemporary life, which is made out of private property; individualised responsibilities and private accountability for ‘failures’; identity construction by exclusion; patriarchy; racialised bordering; and so on.

Home does not sit outside of these relations but is their most evident product, which in turns produces us as home-less: it (re)produces us as subjects in a way that ensures that, being at-home, being-‘OK’ also creates the possibility of our expulsion from that home. This being-OK cuts across the unconscious levels of the skin, the body, the face: it becomes a way of being alive, an entanglement with the codes/axioms brought forward by the capitalistic machine, becoming therefore machinic itself, channelling and reproducing that particular form of exclusion as a normal way of life. The subject at home is far from being free –far from being able to choose and to actuate, far from being allowed the free circulation of will and joy. On the contrary: by accepting the individualisation and commodification of everything (which is the abstract mantra of the capitalistic machine) the subject becomes commodified as well. S/he becomes defined, privatised, wrapped up in opposition to that which is portrayed as less defined, less private: the deviant, the poor, the black body, the ‘homeless’. But again, this is a fictional opposition. When the event of expulsion happens, home-lessness is not generated. It simply re-asserted, intensifying the exclusionary status upon which the norm, is built. That is the shared substratum of -lessness, where life is codified on the basis of home’s possible absence. This is the substratum upon which we have assembled that thing we call home.

Like theories, policies know nothing of the way in which home-lessness is at the core of the homing game. They are built around a false compartmentalisation. They aim to tackle the ‘homeless’ subject as if that subject exists in a domain distinct from that of normality, from that of mainstream, shared functions of home. This is perfectly coherent under current conditions, because it maintains a false distinction that is required for policies – and experts – to maintain their role (as Foucault so clearly argued). Expertise and interventions are designed to isolate and manage, and through that act of isolation and management – through detachment – they are able to reproduce themselves and their function. Policies can, of course, vary greatly in their immediate effects, which can range from outright annihilation to compassion and care. But ultimately, they all fail in recognising the impossibility of tackling ‘homelessness’ and the ‘homeless’ subject as a defined, distinct, element in a wider social plane. That’s because – once again – there is no distinction to start with. Homeless people do not exist. Once we realise that everyone is part of and a producer of a shared way of life, we can recognise that homelessness lies right at the core of the current home we choose to embrace and inhabit.

PAAVO should be celebrated for its capacity to reduce the intensities of lessness. Few programs have achieved so much in terms of restoring forms of ontological security to so many people. Those interested in the short-term alleviation of the symptoms of home-lessness should take inspiration. But PAAVO, and other initiatives (such as Housing First in many other contexts worldwide), will not end home-lessness. Not now, nor by 2030. To tackle home-lessness requires a radical critique of the function of lessness, and then the imaginative labor of reinventing home. We need a new home, based around solidarity, affective care, horizontally shared responsibilities, redistributed means – and more. Only then will we reach a point where home does not include, within its own definition, the possibility of its annihilation. We must move beyond mere shelter, deep into the socio-economic and cultural making of being in the world together, as a true collective being. As anarchist and feminist literature shows, these alternatives makings are possible. An entirely new home needs to be assembled, starting from the radical undoing of the current one.

Screening and debate on right to housing in l’Aquila, Italy

I am happy to be part of the Festival della Participazione, a long-standing festival concerned with civic participation, critical readings of democracy and public debate. The festival takes place each year in L’Aquila, not far from Rome, where the Gran Sasso Science Institute, with its excellent Urban Studies Faculty, is located.

On Saturday 13/10 I’ll discuss #eviction #housing #resistance with a number of excellent Italian colleagues, including Francesco Chiodelli, Margherita Zippata and Alessandro Coppola. The debate will start off from the projection of my documentary film around evictions and the fight for the right to housing in Bucharest, A inceput ploaia/It started raining. The film is available for free at www.ainceputploaia.com 

New project: Antipode Scholar-Activist Award

Thanks to The Antipode Foundation for awarding the Antipode Scholar-Activist Award to Erin MC ELVeda PopoviciNicoleta NicoIoana FloreaCaro Linaand myself, for our project “How the Roma are fighting back: A diary and guide for resistance against restitutions and forced evictions.” (https://antipodefoundation.org/…/sapa-and-iwa-2018-recipie…/)

The project aims to produce a grassroot diary and guide (in Romanian and English) to inspire resistance and organising in Roma communities facing forced evictions in Eastern Europe and beyond. The multimedia publication will include a printed book (history, diary and guide), and a series of online interactive web-maps. The printed book will be based around the diary of an evicted Roma woman and activist, contextualised through the intersectional history of housing struggles in the country. Because of our activist networks, the volume will be used in workshops with communities facing evictions in Romania and Europe. The project final goal is to increase the level of politicisation and awareness of racially dispossessed Roma communities, thereby enabling future resistance against displacement.

The project continues the activist work that we have been carried in Bucharest in the past few years, together with comrades of the Frontul Comun pentru Dreptul la Locuire. It also resonates with the fights portrayed in my documentary film A Inceput Ploaia/It started raining (available at www.ainceputploaia.com) as well as with scholarly work that I’ve published in EPD: Society and Space and more produced by Erin, Iox and many others!

I am very excited about this Award – thanks again to the foundation. You’ll hear from us soon!

We were striking for pensions, we will be striking even more for our union

Together with many of my colleagues across USP and the Urban Institute, I have been striking for almost two weeks, to defend our pensions against its complete neoliberalisation (here info on the rationale of the action). I also decided to strike to fight for our Union – UCU. This latter point is of particular importance to me. If my pension will probably evaporate anyway because of Brexit (I intend to go back to Italy at some point, and at that point my pension will be taxed like a ‘foreign capital’), preserving a strong Union remains very important in today’s context, where everything becomes increasingly privatised and individualised.

During the pickets organised at the UI building, ICOSS, I shared the ground with some amazing people who, with their bodily politics, reminded me of the importance of collective actions and struggles. What we – Andy, Vicky, Jon, Martin, Tom, Nick and many others – did there, under the snow and the rain, was grounded in an horizontal solidarity that needs to be preserved and fostered further. Striking for our union is both about UCU and, more importantly, about that being together, that feeling that we are more of our individualised subjectivity. That we are and we can be a collective intellectual body, with a clear politics and orientation.

Strike action for the pension will continue. I hope that more colleagues will join, to make us, all of us, stronger and more unite. Avanti!

Below some pictures of one of the marches that we organised in Sheffield, with the amazing support of our students.

Radical Housing Journal – first Call for Papers

 

 

I am, together with a collective of 14 people spread around the world, launching the first call for papers for a new publication called the Radical Housing Journal. This is a horizontally managed, feminist and anti-racist publication aimed at academics and activists working around the fight for the right to housing worldwide. The CfP is reported below attached and you can read our manifesto at www.radicalhousingjournal.org

Please share this information with your colleagues and with non-academic activists that may be interested in this project. We are looking for 500 words abstracts by the 5th of March and that contributions are paid for and peer-reviewed.

 

RHJ – Call for Papers Issue 1

The RHJ is an orientation, a praxis for doing research and action. It seeks to critically intervene in pre and post-crisis housing experiences and activist strategies from around the world without being confined to the strict dogmatism of academic knowledge production. Check out our Manifesto at www.radicalhousingjournal.org.

500 words abstract by the 5th of March 2018 at collective@radicalhousingjournal.org

All contributors will receive a compensation for their work (£50 per article)

The first issue of the RHJ will focus on practices and theories of organising around housing struggles that have emerged post-2008. Conscious of the fact that the 2008 crisis did not impact in the same way everywhere, we invite contributions addressing how, in the last ten years, organising and activism have changed both locally and globally. What did that crisis bring to the fore and how have activists worldwide responded to it? How do those responses relate to older mobilizations, and what emerges as different? How can resistance be theorized today, and what can theory do for the future of housing struggles? We invite theoretical and empirical pieces, focusing on specific cases or speculative in nature.
 

The RHJ is structured around four sections.

The first two host substantive original works and are blind peer reviewed (by one academic and one activist non-academic).  The other two – conversations and updates – are not peer-reviewed.

The long read  / Focus on critical analysis and theory-making

MAX 8,000 words per article, including references, excluding pictures

We welcome papers on theorising resistance and activism in the post-2008 worldwide, being they driven by speculative, case-specific or comparative arguments. Papers should aim for theoretical innovation and conceptual finesse.

Retrospectives  / Focus on specific cases, histories, actions

MAX 8,000 words per article, including references, excluding pictures

This section welcomes papers that are oriented at reconstructing, in details, particular histories of movements, organisations and/or actions in the post-2008 scenario worldwide.  Paper should aim for historical rigour and depth.

Conversations  / Reflections from the field of action and organisation

MAX 6,000 words per intervention

Debate-like pieces, written collectively, to reflect on specific actions and strategies. We welcome reflection on the challenges of particular organising approaches and practices.

Updates  / Reviews, provocations, updates on actions

MAX 1,500 words per text

We welcome reviews of books, films & more; and updates on current actions.

 

Deadline for 500 words abstracts: 5th of March 2018

Response to authors: by mid-March 2018 // First draft of papers by: 2nd July 2018

In a .docx file, write your name, institution or group affiliation, email, title, 500 words abstract, six keywords and submit to  collective@radicalhousingjournal.org

Against the financialisation of housing: protests and workshops in Bucharest (5-6 October)

As part of a European campaign promoted by the European Action Coalition aimed at raising awareness around the financialisation of housing, the Frontul Comun Pentru Drept la Locuire (of which I am part) has organised two days of activities on the 5th and 6th of October in Bucharest, Romania. These includes the launch of a national coalition for the right to housing and the city (on the 5th) as well as a public protest (on the 6th) and a three-hours workshop that I will run (always on the 6th).

The workshop is entitled ‘Visual Ethnography for Radical Action‘. In it, I will critically illustrate the making of ‘A inceput ploaia‘, a 72 minutes documentary around the fight for housing in Bucharest, in order to provide an introduction to the use of visual ethnography as a tool for radical action. In the first part of the workshop, issues of positionality, methodology and co-production of knowledge will be illustrated and discussed. In the second part, I will offer an overview of the main challenges associated with visual anthropology, both theoretically and practically. Groups will be organised and participants will be asked to perform a series of exercises around the making of visual analysis and the production of alternative visual representation of marginalised groups. Lastly, the third part of the workshop will consist in group works revolving around the opportunities of visual methods as a tool for radical action in Bucharest and elsewhere in Romania.

To take part in it, please send an email at fcdloc@gmail.com. Clicking on the image below you can download a flyer summarising the content of this workshop. All welcome!

 

The best intro I ever received on class struggle: Il primo tragico Fantozzi

Paolo Villaggio interpreting the accountant Ugo Fantozzi.

Today Paolo Villaggio passed away. Per-se, this is not big news. The Italian actor, author, director and comedian was 84 and he was not well known outside of the peninsula (and of course not everyone within it liked him!). The news, however, unsettled me for a simple reason: although Villaggio will be remembered also for his collaborations with Fellini and Olmi among others, to me he was relevant because he introduced me to Marxism and provided a convincing representation of what class struggle was all about. His passing away leaves me with a sense of melancholy, perhaps amplified by the dull and grey sky of this early July morning in Wales, where I live.

The ‘ragioniere’ (accountant) Ugo Fantozzi was the most famous character played by Villaggio. Fantozzi came to the fore in short stories published in two major magazines in the late sixties (l’Espresso and l’Europeo), to then be brought to screen by Villaggio in a number of popular films – about 12, from 1975 to the late 1990. Not all of these films are not worth a mention: filled with banal jokes and crass situations, they are not the reason why I am recalling Villaggio’s here. Some of those are, however, true gems that deserve appraisal and consideration. The best one, and the one I would like to recall in these lines, is the first of the series – simply titled Fantozzi.

The poster of ‘Fantozzi’ (1975), with Paolo Villaggio, directed by Luciano Salce

The film shows the tales of Ugo Fantozzi, an accountant working for a multinational company in Genoa, the norther Italian city where most of the story is taking place. He is a mild, clumsy weak man, a very low-rank white collar harassed by his bosses and colleagues, dogged by all kinds of misfortunes and tragedies. Fantozzi is vexed by his own life and he can’t do much to get out of his misfortune: his tragicomic status – to use an hyperbole that he might have used – is apocalyptic. The guy does not, however, accept his destiny but tries everything in his power to change his condition. What is interested to me is not what he does, but what he is after: Fantozzi does not want to be a better man, or even a successful one, but all he wants is to be respected as a human being. Fantozzi is after dignity: at home, with his dysfunctional friends and, most importantly, in the workplace. It is there that Paolo Villaggio’s critical contribution lies: in showing the hierarchical structures and psycho-bureaucratic means by which the ‘Megaditta’ (Mega-company) is able to control and exploit Fantozzi and his colleagues.

Villaggio does not point his critical analysis toward the character he created, which would have meant to wrap the ‘ragioniere’ in self-commiseration typical of the Italian Catholics’ pitiful approach on the less fortunate (which was definitely the most common at that times in Italy). Rather, Villaggio shows how the ‘ragioniere’ is only a misfortuned product of his own context, that of the emergent Italian corporate culture of the post-60’s boom: an industrial society of mass consumption that, like Fantozzi and his colleagues, is attracted by commodities like beautiful cars and utilities but at the same time remain attached to quintessentially Italian paraphernalia like football, pasta and sexist jokes. Fantozzi is a patchwork emerging from that (apparently) ascending provincial life and he is, in this sense, the best son of his times: a caricature of common subjective traits emerging from that Italy and that mode of production and concumption. After all Fantozzi is – as the film poster above states – just a ‘povero Cristo’, a ‘poor Christ’, meaning with that an innocent victim of the system he lived in (and one should not overlook the ironic critique of Catholic’s dogmatism and symbolism contained in that poster’s image, which was an important part of all Villaggio’s writings).

The masterpiece of all Fantozzi’s tales is contained in the first five minutes of that first film. There we see the young ‘ragioniere’ waking up in his home and getting prepared to go to work. Everything is organised to the finest details: Fantozzi has only a few second to wake up, eat his breakfast (while comping his hair), fulfill his physiological needs in the ‘European record-time’ of six seconds, and finally get dressed with the help of his wife Pina. When, however, a shoe lace breaks, Fantozzi is forced to hurry up in an unconventional way to catch the overcrowded bus that will bring him to work. Ceased by a crowd of angry peers that he inadvertently pulled out of the bus, Fantozzi reaches the Megaditta in a ‘ridardo mostruoso’ (monstrously late) and he has only a few second left to stamp his working card in time. His epic running against the factory’s clock, surrounded by colleagues that do no help him otherwise he will get ‘squalificato’ (disqualified from the competition), is one of the best scenes that Italian’s cinema has ever produced.

To get in time to work, Fantozzi has organised his early mornings actions around Taylor’s scientific model: as a series of repetitive action to be completed in a specific time. Errors or unexpected occurrences are not tolerated an they must be dealt with in radical and life-threatening ways: Fantozzi has to climb his balcony and throw himself onto the street as much as shortcuts and out-of-the-box ‘solutions’ are implemented in factories worldwide in the name of efficiency (which of course equates with the capitalist’s profit). The ‘ragioniere’ wants to be efficient too and he does not want to arrive late at work: the reprimands he would receive otherwise and the consequences on his salary would be intolerable for him. The same goes for the other white collars whom he inadvertently pull out of their overcrowded bus. They have no time and no emotional capacity to understand Fantozzi – there is, in a sense, no possible solidarity for him and with him: the workers start to beat each other and to punish the weakest one in the chain, our beloved accountant. Similarly, no solidarity is possible in the final epic run either: Fantozzi is alone against time, in competition with his own peers, exhausted by life – and its peculiar mode of production – already at 8am on a Monday morning.

In those five minutes there is the best popular representation of a Marxian critique to industrial capitalism that I ever saw in my life. We get the extension of factory life into domestic life in terms of timing and division of labor; the alienation from one’s own Gattungswesen (spiece-essence), meaning the disenfranchisement of Fantozzi from any other aspects of his life that is non-work related; the lack of solidarity among citizens-workers (Fantozzi’s peers in the bus) as well as the lack of solidarity within the factory itself, where Fantozzi can’t be helped or the bare rules of the ‘competition’ (the rules of production) would be invalidated. This is pure critical analysis translated into cinematic comedy for the masses: that capacity to reach the many in a comprehensible yet still critical way is, to me, what an intellectual work of the highest standard should be about.

Those five minutes and some other parts of the Fantozzi’s series made me aware – when I was a teenager, unconsciously and without any theoretical presumption – of the subtle mechanisms leading my father to come and go from our home at absurd hours, often working the 22:00-6:00 shift and then the 14:00-22:00 shift in a row to get the better possible pay as a factory worker at FIAT; of the power-structure and domestic division of labor affecting my mother, caring for us while at the same time being confined to informal cleaning jobs around the ‘alta Padana’ (the region where I grew up); but also, later on, of the inadequacy of most of the institutional education that I received in the depressed provinces of the North where we were never exposed to any critical theory or thinking. I am so attached to Fantozzi because it was through him that myself and many of my 80’s-born-peers had their first, nuanced and provisional encounter, with a politicized analysis of the selfish and exploitative society we were growing in.

The ‘ragioniere’ approaching Marx’s texts for the first time in his life (1975).

There is one last reason for which I find the ‘ragioniere Ugo’ compelling. It is that despite all his clumsiness and misfortunes he does, from time to to time, rebel to the system that has framed him and condemned him to his status as nullity. Fantozzi might be slow and perhaps a bit dull, but when he is cornered he gets angry: he starts to question his bosses, to organise with his peers and, at a certain moment, even at reading Marx itself. Deep down in his political conscience Fantozzi is still alive and he knows that something – bigger than the value associated to his labor – had been stolen from him. Paolo Villaggio was not, however, one to concede unnecessary happy endings. He knew too well that somebody like Fantozzi could had not, alone, overturn the machine. This is why Fantozzi is never successful in his attempts: his own bosses are always able to talk him back, approaching him with persuasive voices that speak of compromise and loyalty to the ‘Megaditta’, which in turns leave him constantly in a worse position than before.

Back in 2010, when I was about to publish my first solo-authored academic paper – based around a ‘social justice’ critique of Turin and its ‘margins’ – I had no doubt about the epigraph that I wanted to appear on it (you can download that work here or on academia.edu). The text was taken from the last scene of that first Villaggio’s movie. There Fantozzi is confronted by the ‘Mega Direttore Galattico’ (the Mega-Galactic Director) of the ‘Megaditta’, following a failed revolutionary attempt by the ‘ragioniere’. After some talk, using a viscid and patronizing tone the director is able to put Fantozzi’s back in his submissive status, so much that at the end it is Fantozzi himself that asks the director guidance on social justice-related issues. The dialogue is a masterpiece of failed class struggle:

Fantozzi: Ma in merito a tutte queste rivendicazioni e a tutte le ingiustizie che ci sono, lei che cosa consiglierebbe di fare, Maestà?
Mega Direttore Galattico: Ecco, bisognerebbe che per ogni problema nuovo tutti gli uomini di buona volontà, come me e come lei, caro Fantozzi, cominciassero a incontrarsi senza violenze in una serie di civili e democratiche riunioni, fino a che non saranno d’accordo.
Fantozzi: Ma, mi scusi Santità, ma in questo modo ci vorranno almeno mille anni!
Mega Direttore Galattico: Posso aspettare, io.
Fantozzi: Grazie.
Fantozzi: But in relation to all these requests and all the injustices that we witness, what do you recommend to do, your Majesty?
Mega Direttore Galattico: Here it is: for every new problem, all the goodwill men, like me and you, my dear Fantozzi, they would have to begin to meet without violence in a series of civic and democratic gatherings, until we will all agree on the same point.
Fantozzi: But, I do apologize your Holiness… But in this will take at least a thousand years!
Mega Direttore Galattico: I can wait.
Fantozzi: Thanks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although not all of Villaggio’s production is of the same standard – and despite the fact that many critical points could be raised by a number of his statements or artistic choices – the first and second of Fantozzi’s film will always remain powerful representations of personal and class alienation, both in Italy and elsewhere. I learnt a lot from ‘il ragioniere Ugo’ and I am grateful to Villaggio for having used popular comedy in such a meaningful critical way. Tonight I will cheer up to him with a traditional ‘frittatona di cipolle e famigliare di Peroni gelata‘ (onions omelette with a big bottle of Peroni — although it sounds better in Italian!).

 

A inceput ploaia, ‘my’ first documentary. Why, when, and how.

For updates, please visit the film website at www.ainceputploaia.com (or simply click on the poster)

A început ploaia is the first documentary about forced evictions in Bucharest, which I written, researched and directed after two years of ethnographic fieldwork, activism and engagement with evicted people in the city.

The film follows the story of the Vulturilor 50 community (100 individuals), whom dwelt on the street of Bucharest from September 2014 to June 2016 in order to fight against the eviction from their home, enacting the longest and most visible protest for housing right in the history of contemporary Romania. The vicissitudes of this community are interpolated with a number of interviews with activists, scholars and politicians, composing a picture that speaks of racial discrimination, homelessness, evictions, but also of grassroots practices of resistance and social change. A început ploaia is the touching testament to the everyday revolution of Roma people fighting forced evictions from the centre of Bucharest, an endeavour made of fragile dwellings, provisional makeshifts and tenuous – but fierce – occupancy of public space.

The story behind the makings of the movie is long and complex. You can read about it here.

If you would like to know more about the movie, including release date and screenings, please proceed to www.ainceputploaia.com. You can follow my brand new production house – A Community Productions – @acommprod or check its website at www.acommunityproductions.com

Here is the trailer of A început ploaia. Share it wherever you’d like!

A psalm for Giulio Regeni and us

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Today I went to the remembrance ceremony for Giulio Regeni, in front of the Italian embassy in London. Many Italian and British researchers were there. What happened to him could have happened to us and to all committed researchers like he was. We are all distressed and filled with hanger for what we perceive as an attack to academic freedom, which is also an attack to the joy of being human. The point for us – for the many ‘us’ that still believe in that freedom and that joy – is to do not stop to remembrance, but to turn our distress into something powerful, generative and beautiful. We need to meet and to discuss the issues that we face while doing fieldwork; to start talking again one to the other; to demand better training, protection and insurance from our employers. In Cambridge a few of us are slowly moving in this sense. If this won’t necessarily avoid further attack on our freedom, it will at least make us stronger and better organised. (In this sense, please sign the petition to ensure a full investigation of Giulio’s death).

At the ceremony today some of Giulio’s friends distributed a text by the Syrian poet Adūnīs. I am copying it here, in remembrance of Giulio and as a sign of the beauty we have to fight for.

Adūnīs, Psalm, 1961

He comes unarmed like a forest, like a destined cloud.
Yesterday he carried a continent and changed the
position of the sea

He paints the back of day and creates daylight out of
his feet, borrows the night’s shoes and waits for
what will not come

He lives where the stone becomes a lake, the shadow a
city – he lives and fools despair, wiping out the
vastness of hope, dancing for the soil so it can yawn,
for the trees so they can sleep

And here he is speaking of crossroads, drawing the
magic sign on the forehead of time
He fills life but no one sees him. He turns life into
foam and plunges into it. He turns tomorrow into a
prey and hopelessly pursues it. His words are
engraved in the direction of loss loss loss

Doubt is his home, but he is full of eyes.

He is the wind that knows no retreat, the water that
does not return to its source. He creates his own
kind starting from himself – he has no ancestors and
his roots are in his footsteps.

He walks through the abyss in the form of the wind.

Housing racism on Open Democracy

People right after the eviction III

Open Democracy has published the piece I wrote on Eviction and Housing Racism in Bucharest. The piece narrates the story of the Vulturilor community, which has been living on the street since 1 year following their eviction on the 15th of September 2014.

You can read it here: https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/michele-lancione/eviction-and-housing-racism-in-bucharest

The same piece was translated into Romanian and published by ‘TOTB’. Available at: http://totb.ro/despre-evacuari-si-rasismul-cotidian-in-bucuresti/ 

To know more about Vulturilor, please read the community’s blog.