On the academic boycott against Israel + new work to stop dual-use agreement with Italy (MAECI)

For a few weeks, a number of academics in Italy have been working to stop an agreement between the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State of Israel to finance ‘scientific projects’ that can lead themselves to military use. The agreement – this one – speaks of research focused on ‘frontier applications’ in the realm of precision optics, electronics and quantum technologies. Working for this kind of technologies with the State of Israel today means working with its military-industrial complex.

Our letter received more than 2,500 signatures from concerned academics and university personnel around Italy, and students have used it to organise on the matter across the country. We scored some concrete successes since the agreement has been stopped, or at least put in question, in a number of Universities, including Turin and the Normale of Pisa. The original letter – here – is in Italian, but I am translating it a bit below:

“At the end of February 2024, we learn that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is announcing a call for joint research projects based on the Industrial, Scientific and Technological Cooperation Agreement between Italy and Israel. We emphasise that the funding could be used to develop dual-use technology, i.e. for both civil and military use. This would aggravate our country’s international responsibilities since, despite the government’s assurances, Italy does not seem to have stopped exporting weapons to Tel Aviv as of 7 October 2023.
Given these premises, we demand that industrial, scientific and technological cooperation between Italian and Israeli universities and research centres be suspended, with the aim of putting pressure on the state of Israel to commit to respecting all international law, as is rightly demanded of all states in the world.
We also make this request in order to protect Italian institutions from the accusation of not having fulfilled the imperative duty to prevent genocide, wherever there is a danger of it, which is an obligation for UN member states according to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, or of being complicit in war crimes, currently under investigation by the International Criminal Court. The MAECI notice does not protect Italian institutions because it may include the development of dual-use technologies and devices. Our request is in line with the statement, dated 23 February 2024, by numerous UN experts that member states should immediately refrain from transferring weapons and military technology to Israel, including research and know-how for possible war use, as there is an inescapable risk that they will be used to violate customary obligations under international humanitarian law. Moreover, the collaborations that we are asking to be discontinued appear to be in serious conflict with the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights that the government itself claims to be overseeing. It would be paradoxical to ask businesses to respect rights that are deemed secondary or violable in the actions of public and research organisations, which have a duty to comply with the republican constitutional order (which includes international law as an integral part of it).”

We have now prepared a new statement since tomorrow is the last day to stop the agreement, and strike action has been prepared by students and unions in Italy. Here is the text, in Italian: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Y8j8lPk9ptCog1U0gZL2m7-gxXLPXcwH9KGHSeqH_kU/edit

The conclusions read:

“On 10 April, the MAECI notice will expire, but the deep connivance of our government and our universities with the plausible genocide taking place in Gaza will not see a break except under pressure from those who study, teach and do research in our country’s academic and research infrastructure. For this reason, in addition to participating in tomorrow’s mobilisations, we invite the academic community to a national online assembly to be held on 17 April at 5pm to discuss how to relaunch initiatives to break the links between Italian public research, Israeli institutions and the military industry, and to build real bridges of peace through the creation of channels of cooperation and support for the Palestinian population.
We feel a strong ethical responsibility for our work within society.”On 10 April, the MAECI notice will expire, but the deep connivance of our government and our universities with the plausible genocide taking place in Gaza will not see a break except under pressure from those who study, teach and do research in our country’s academic and research infrastructure. For this reason, in addition to participating in tomorrow’s mobilisations, we invite the academic community to a national online assembly to be held on 17 April at 5pm to discuss how to relaunch initiatives to break the links between Italian public research, Israeli institutions and the military industry, and to build real bridges of peace through the creation of channels of cooperation and support for the Palestinian population.
We feel a strong ethical responsibility for our work within society.”

Below I am reporting some interviews I have been releasing in national media, on la Stampa, il Fatto Quotidiano and Repubblica on this matter. Similar exposure work has been done by a number of comrades (both students, unionists and academics), who have been attacked on national media. Avanti!

Antifascist University Alliance – a new initiative in Turin

Today, we had our first meeting in Turin of our new antifascist university alliance.

This is a renewed form of activism that links our anti-fascist praxis to anti-militarism and the need to defend the terrain of our universities in order to fight inside and outside them. It comes out of the increased militarization and policing of our University spaces, as well as to fight the far-right acceleration of the political and societal spheres in Italy.

In our first public meeting, we talked about foibe (for a brief intro on the topic see here) with Eric Gobetti and Bruno Maida.

If you work in the university world in Turin, you can sign up and read our Manifesto here (in Italian): https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSenJkDVdA3i7h8FUqCUo2S-oG_uoICo4FY-TO4rReTSA1phbA/viewform?usp=sf_link

PLAT + Beyond Inhabitation Lab together for a public event on radical housing in Bologna (3 Nov 2023)

“La casa: un incrocio di lotte” is a join initiative of PLAT (an autonomous Social Intervention Platform based in Bologna, Italy) and the Beyond Inhabitation Lab. With it, we want to discuss the political nature of the ‘house’ in its being a market good, with an exchange value, and in its being a fundamental component of human habitation, with its use value. We are particularly interested in discussing how housing is, inevitably, a relational question, that is, a question of struggles that have to do with issues that run through, but are not reduced to, sheltering. How can we think about housing justice when it is inextricably linked to issues of gender, racialising processes, ecological and economic extractions? What struggle is needed to imagine a new emancipatory way of inhabiting the world, putting the home at the centre? We propose here a reflection that interweaves the world of academia with that of social struggles, with a set of interventions that start from the question of housing on a global scale to focus on Italian struggles. The meeting will take place from 2pm to 6pm on 3rd November, 2023, at PLAT in Bologna. All the logistics detail can be found on Facebook. Program – In Italian Prima sessione (14:30-16) – Introduzione – PLAT – La questione della casa nel mondo urbano globale – Michele Lancione (Beyond Inhabitation Lab) – Questione abitativa e mobilitazioni sociali a Lisbona – Marco Allegra (ICS Lisbona – Sirigaita/Habita) – Mercati e vissuti: la questione casa in Italia – Sarah Gainsforth (giornalista) Seconda sessione (16:30-18) – Introduzione – PLAT – Dal conflitto urbano al cantiere sociale: percorsi di autorecupero, l’esperienza di Firenze – Dariuche – Dowlatchahi (architetto) – Occupazioni e lotta abitativa a Roma – Margherita Grazioli (Gran Sasso Science Institute) – Queering your home! Lavoro di cura e riproduzione sociale nelle s/famiglie queer – Lab. Smaschieramenti Bologna Conclusioni Apre la discussione: Maurizio Bergamaschi (UNIBO)

Università e Militarizzazione – My short book on the relationship between the Academy and the Military out now

My short book on the relationship between the Academy and the Military sector is out now in Italy. The book is written in Italian, and it is published by ERIS Edizioni, a leading independent publisher in the country (with which I have also published my ethnographic novel on homelessness, more than a decade ago).

The book is the result of two years of direct engagement and study around the link between Universities and the ‘defense’ industry in the West. Albeit this is not my primary research interest, I have decided to dwell into this topic out of my activism against a business relationship between my Department at the Polytechnic of Turin and Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (you can find more about that saga here, here or in this recent interview). The aim of this work is to speak to students and concerned academics to widen our collective understanding of processes that are reducing our capacity to learn and study in a critical and radical way.

Although this first attempt is in Italian, in collaboration with one of my researchers, Ms. Patrícia Nunes-Gomes, we are already working on a much-expanded version in the English language.

Below, you can find a short summary of the book in Italian, and the links to the first public conversations around it. Finally, you can order it directly at ERIS or at any bookstore in Italy and beyond.

Università e Militarizzazione

ISBN: 9791280495372

In Europa e in occidente la sfera civile e quella militare sono sempre più interconnesse. Questo processo coinvolge anche le università, che sempre più offrono servizi al cosiddetto mondo della “difesa”. In questo saggio Michele Lancione offre una guida per affrontare una semplice domanda: qual è il problema del rapporto tra Università e Militarizzazione, e come possiamo investigarlo ed eventualmente combatterlo?

A partire da una profonda conoscenza del sistema statunitense ed europeo e grazie alle sue esperienze nel Regno Unito, in Australia e in Italia, l’autore ci illustra diversi casi emblematici come il programma Human Terrain System statunitense, i nuovi strumenti di finanziamento alla ricerca militare italiani, e la collaborazione tra Frontex e il Politecnico di Torino. Ma racconta anche di pratiche di resistenza con le quali si cerca di combattere l’avvicinarsi tra l’Accademia e il Militare.

Questo è un primo spunto per una controcultura del rapporto tra Università e Militarizzazione, attraverso la quale soprattutto il corpo studentesco possa lottare per sottrarre la ricerca, lo studio e gli spazi dell’Università da industrie fondate su violenza, dolore e morte.

Michele Lancione è professore ordinario di Geografia Politico-Economica al Politecnico di Torino. Si occupa di lotte abitative, homelessness e approcci liberatori al tema della casa. È co-fondatore del Radical Housing Journal e co-direttore del Beyond Inhabitation Lab, nonché attivo in campagne di ricerca e attivismo contro la violenza del regime di frontiera europeo. Con Eris ha pubblicato Il numero 1, un romanzo etnografico sulla condizione dei senza dimora a Torino.

Le prime presentazioni:

– Roma: Esc Atelier oggi, 13 ottobre, ore 18: https://www.facebook.com/events/1002753280947952
– Napoli: Libreria Tamu, martedì 17 ottobre, ore 18: https://www.facebook.com/events/1077095309953547
– Bologna: Libreria modo infoshop, venerdì 3 novembre, dettagli a seguire
– Torino: martedì 21 novembre, dettagli a seguire
– Messina: venerdì 1 dicembre, dettagli a seguire
– Palermo: sabato 2 dicembre, dettagli a seguire
– Firenze: CSA nEXt Emerson, sabato 16 dicembre, dettagli a seguire



Working with high schools students in Turin, against Frontex

I recently met (for the second year in a row) some high school kids here in Turin to talk about Frontex. It was their teacher, the talented Antonella Mantovani, who brought them to me for a class project related to migration and the issue of ‘fortress Europe’.

I share Antonella’s feedback on this experience, which gave me even more strength to fight Frontex and the militarisation of the university (my translation).

Dear Michele,

the students in the group that had had the wonderful experience of meeting with you about Frontex made their presentation last Friday, which ended with the class holding a demonstration against Frontex during the lecture break.

The students did a great job and I urged them to send you the ppt, to show you that your great willingness allowed us to do some counter-information. Tell me if you have received the work, if not I will pass it on to you.

In the personal reports the guys expressed great appreciation for you. I’ll turn some extracts over to you.

“This group work was one of the most interesting I have ever participated in and it allowed me to inform myself on sensitive and topical issues. Three months ago, in fact, I knew nothing about Frontex and its violations and I knew nothing about the agreement between the Polytechnic and the Agency, which is now being talked about more and more.
The work of ‘a world without borders’ also gave me the great opportunity to interview Professor Michele Lancione in person: meeting him was extremely interesting and educational and I believe it also added considerable value to our work. I was pleasantly surprised by his enormous helpfulness from the very beginning, when we contacted him by email, until our meeting: he even gave us a tour of the beautiful Faculty of Architecture, which I had never entered before.
… Lastly, I am really very pleased with the flag we had coloured: I am happy that our classmates liked the idea in the first place, and then also the people from Galfer who came to help us. I believe that our objective, that of letting as many people as possible know what Frontex was and did, was achieved, and I had proof of this when some curious kids who were passing by on the second floor asked me to explain our work to them in detail. “

“I think that of all those I have done this group work was the most interesting for two main reasons. The first was definitely for the interview with the expert in the field, Prof. Michele Lancione, because it was an experience I had never had before. All the various steps of the meeting, from the contact, to the formulation of the questions, and ending with the actual interview, were a completely new situation. The second reason is because of the topics covered, as especially the part on current affairs allowed me to discover many aspects of today’s world that I was not yet aware of. The glaring example is the European agency Frontex, which I would still be completely unaware of if it were not for this group work.
I was also very impressed by the attitudes and mannerisms of the professor, who showed himself to be an affable and humble person, but at the same time particularly knowledgeable and very determined to continue on the path taken in the fight against Frontex… “

I should add that when I went down to the floor where the small demonstration was taking place (the class was colouring a STOP FRONTEX sign prepared by the working group and explaining to those who asked questions what Frontex is) I found a very pro-European colleague who was arguing with the students, claiming that Frontex has been ‘diverted’ but originally has good purposes. I joined in the discussion and then sent her some material… the colleague today thanked me for the material, which she read, and expressed all her scandal about Frontex, about which she had wrong information.
I mean, the guys have really made some changes.

Thank you very much!

A greeting full of esteem and admiration

The esteem and admiration are all mine, dear Prof, for how you treat your students, and how they treat the time they have at school.

And by the way, the demonstration against Frontex during recess is something that makes me very proud. It is one of my best contributions to the impact of the university and research on civil society.

RECAP on previous episodes: https://www.michelelancione.eu/blog/2022/11/10/the-university-of-turin-against-frontex-and-against-the-polytechnic-the-fight-continues/

Keynote at the RGS-IBG Urban Geography conference with Veda Popovici (18 Nov)

This Friday, with my beloved sister, comrade and friend Veda Popovici, we will give one of the keynotes at the 2021 RGS-IBG Urban Geography Research Group Annual Conference ‘Cities of Hope’.
I am thrilled to share the floor with the amazing Gautam Bhan, Loretta Lees, Verónica Gago and their partners.
With Veda we are going to talk on “The false symmetry of research-activism. Towards accomplicenship and undercommon praxis”.
Friday 19th, from 10am UTC.

The false symmetry of research-activism. Towards accomplicenship and undercommon praxis, Michele Lancione in conversation with Veda Popovici.

Academia and activism have long been exploring their intersections, overlaps and tensions. Going beyond a reductive “make academia more activist” slogan, we propose to start by exploring the false symmetry of academia vs activism from epistemological, material and geopolitical perspectives. With these in mind, we raise the questions: what is the starting point of a shared space between organising and the academy? What kind of epistemological change is needed in academia to work with organising? How can we work with the academia’s privileges for political struggle? We propose the concepts of accomplicenship and undercommon praxis to anchor a politics of duplicity (as opposed to one of authenticity) committed to radical redistribution and movement sustainability.

Keynote in Berlin on dispossession and minor activism

After a long time of no-travelling, and a very tough couple of years, I now have the privilege to travel to Berlin (by train!) to take part in a very interesting event put together by my good friend Piotr Goldstein titled Migrant and Minority Activism: Between protest movements and everyday engagement.

I am excited to deliver the keynote at the end of the first day, where I will try to link together years of research in Bucharest, Romania, around racialised dispossession, radical housing and activism. The title of my talk will be, Inhabiting dispossession in the post-socialist city: storylines, embodied struggles, and emplacement

The event is organised by ZOiS Berlinand the EASA Anthropology of Social Movements Network. More info on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/834122970514959/?active_tab=discussion

Horizontal solidarities: Screening and debate at the Casalboccone squat (Rome)

Yesterday in Rome at the Casal Boccone Occupato resiste e insiste squat we had a powerful exchange Romania-Italy on racism, evictions and housing justice.

We screened A Inceput Ploaia and then had a debate with the comrades of Blocchi Precari Metropolitani, the Comitato Case Popolari Tufello, occupanti di Colle Salario and Metropoliz Lab.

The Frontul Comun pentru Dreptul la Locuire was represented by myself and Nicoleta (from the Vulturilor 50 community), who chatted with us via messenger, answering questions from the comrades of Rome and invited all to continue to resist and fight for the right to housing and the city. Mady Gavrilescu was there and we expressed our solidarity for her fight #DajeMada

It was a powerful exchange, which I hope it is going to be just the start of a series of collaborations and common fights. These spaces of encounter are possible only via mixing academic and activist work in ways that are not dictated by the scholars involved, but are aligned with the grassroot politics at play in the context of action.

Thanks Mady Gavrilescu for the hospitality and Margherita Grazioli for organizing!

Italian community screenings of A inceput ploaia/It started raining

Several activist groups and communities concerned with the right to housing in Italy have organised screening of my documentary A inceput ploaia/It started raining in the peninsula. One of the aim of this film is precisely that of being used as a ‘excuse’ to allow for genuine discussion around eviction, displacement and the fight for the right to housing to take place in various locales across Europe. After similar screenings in Romania, Hungary, Croatia, the UK, Austria and more, I am particularly happy that this is happening, now also in my native country. From the 15 to the 19 of January 2018, screenings will take place in Rome (two times), Naples, Florence, and more will be organised in Milan and Turin.

The screenings in Rome and Naples are particularly relevant for the kind of political project that the film aim to sustain, which is part of my work with FCDL (The Common Front for the Right to Housing of Bucharest) Below you can find details of those. At www.ainceputploaia.com you can, moreover, watch the documentary in its entirety, with English, Italian and Hungarian subtitles (for subtitles other than English, please go instead to the Vimeo page of the film, here).


16th January, Rome – From 6pm at the Squat Metropoliz

Starting from 6pm, we will meet at the squat Metropoliz (which host also the self-managed MAAM). After an aperitivo we will screen the film for the inhabitants of the squat, and in particular for the Roma people living in there (who moved there after having being evicted from a Roma camp some years ago). The idea is to stimulate a debate around the living conditions of Roma people in Rome but also to allow for the Roma of Metropoliz to express their sentiments about the occupation and other political strategies of resistance.

Thanks to my friend and excellent photographer Valerio Muscella for organising the event.


17th January, Rome – From 9pm at the Cultural Centre Apollo Undici (via Bixio, 80/A) (Info on Facebook)

Always in Rome, this time at the ‘Centro aggregativo’ and cultural centre Apollo Undici, for a screening that will be followed by a debate featuring the most active, grassroots, voices fighting for housing in the Italian capital. Thanks to the organising efforts of Sandra Annunziata, of EtiCity, a number of incredibly interesting people will take part to the discussion following the film. These includes: the evicted inhabitants of via Curtatone, activists for the ‘Coordinamento di Lotta per la Casa, activists of Action and of Spin Time, representatives from the Sportello di Lotta per la Casa of Magliana, of the anti-eviction network, and of the ‘Comitato Abitanti Milano Sansiro e Asia Milano’.

Thanks to Sandra Annunziata for the organisation, to Giacomo Ravesi for allowing this to happen in the spaces of the Apollo, and to my friend Claudia Meschiari for her original idea and continous support.


18th January, Florence – from 6pm at Complesso le Murate (via dell’Agnolo)

This will be a screening and a debate organised for PhD students, focused on participatory visual methods. Giovanni Attili (who worked extensively on visual and participatory methods with Leonie Sandercock) will act as discussant.

Thanks to Francesco Chiodelli and the GSSI for the invitation and sponsorship.


19th January, Naples – From 1pm in Scampia and then screening and debate from 6pm at the Ex Asilo Filangieri (Info on Facebook)

This time in Naples, one of my favourite city par excellence, for a full day of talks, debates, screening and food. The screening has been organised at a time of political tension in the city in relation to the housing need of its Roma people. In particular, the aim of this screening is to boost the debate around the conditions of two communities or Roma living in the areas of Scampia and Gianturco. The first, in particular, have faced evictions and relocations, and are now living in very precarious conditions (like many other Roma in the city). To the full day of activities – including a walk in Scampia, meetings with the community and a large debate in the evening – have been invited key figures of this struggle, from local activist to representatives of the affected communities. Below the detailed flier of the event.

Huge thanks to Emiliano Esposito (GSSI) for the idea and effort, to Emma Ferulano for the excellent organisation, to Fabio Amato and to all the other friends from Naples for the energy, time and effort put into this event.


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!