Two weeks in LA at the Skid Row Archive and Museum

I spent the last two weeks in Los Angeles, as a guest of the Skid Row Archive and Museum. This is a community archive and museum managed by the Los Angeles Poverty Department, a performance group closely tied to the city’s Skid Row neighborhood. It was founded in 1985 by director and activist John Malpede, who runs it with associated director and producer Henriëtte Brouwers. Its members are mostly homeless or formerly homeless people.

I was the first time at the LAPD pre-pandemic, in 2019 and I always wanted to go back to them to dig up some of the community organising history available in the archive and to spend more time with John, Henriëtte, as well as with Henry and Zach (two of the archivists working there). The Archive has an extensive number of resources on Skid Row History – including planning documents, articles, videos, oral histories, audios, interview transcripts and more – available for research. The archive documents the culture that developed on Skid Row—an activist culture, artistic culture and recovery culture— that offers a useful model for other communities navigating gentrification pressures.

While in LA, I also gave a short seminar to PhD students at the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA, hosted by Ananya Roy. I really enjoyed being there and discussing with colleagues and organisers ideas and practice about emplacement, homing and housing justice. I look forward to be back this coming July for the Freedom school at UCLA.

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.


Proofs of my forthcoming book with Duke – For a Liberatory Politics of Home – out Nov 23

I am now concluding the editing of the proofs of my forthcoming book, For a Liberatory Politics of Home, out with Duke University Press in November 2023.

I worked on this text on and off for more than ten years, from my Ph.D. to a number of other entanglements. In the book, I develop an argument around the impossible possibility of ‘home’ and the colonies of the homely, in order to construct a way of thinking beyond the violent epistemic and material entrapments of the binary home/homelessness. I work with processual, feminist, and autonomous thinking, and I ground the argument in my Italian ethnographic research but also in years of engagement with debates and struggles around housing justice across the Atlantic.

If you want to know more, a preliminary page is available here:

The book will be out in November 2023. I am extremely grateful to the people at Duke for their incredible editorial steer and dedication, to Ananya Roy and Katheryne Brickell for unparalleled insights, to my brother AbdouMaliq Simone and to Leo for pushing me to write this thing, and to many others, whom I thank in the volume itself.

Discussione de ‘La colpa di non avere un tetto’, di Daniela Leonardi, Eris, Torino

A dieci anni dal mio ‘Il numero 1‘, Eris Edizioni ha pubblicato un bel saggio di Daniela Leonardi intitolato ‘La colpa di non avere un tetto: Homelessness tra stigma e stereotipi’

Questo Mercoledì, 22 Sett, h. 18:30, @ Magazzino sul Po (Murazzi lato sx), lo discuterò con l’autrice. Info su Facebook, o qui sotto.

L’autrice, Daniela Leonardi (Assegnista di Ricerca presso l’Università di Parma, dove si occupa di Sociologia Applicata nell’ambito dei sistemi di welfare. Si occupa da 12 anni di homelessness da vari punti di osservazione e intervento: ricerca, lavoro all’interno dei servizi di accoglienza, formazione, comunicazione pubblica) discuterà con Michele Lancione (Professore di Geografia Economico-Politica presso il Politecnico di Torino e co-fondatore del Radical Housing Journal).

Barboni, senzatetto, clochard, homeless, accattoni, senza fissa dimora: i termini che usiamo per riferirci a chi non ha una casa in cui abitare portano con sé il retrogusto amaro dei pregiudizi e degli stereotipi. Quello che queste parole non dicono è che la condizione di essere senza casa, per un periodo di tempo più o meno lungo, è qualcosa che chiunque può trovarsi a vivere. Daniela Leonardi racconta le persone senza dimora cercando di decostruire lo stigma, per raccontarle appunto come persone e per mostrare come la loro condizione sia generata non da colpe personali ma soprattutto da politiche inefficienti.

My video response to the Los Angeles Department ‘Walk the Talk’ Skid Row archive project

In the collective imaginary – but also in much detrimental journalistic and scholarly ‘work’ – #SkidRow in #LosAngeles is presented only as a place of neglect and despair. Yet, as bell hooks taught us, margins are never just a place of annihilation but can become sites of embodied mundane resistance against structural, often racialised, violence. These embodiments do not speak only of being ‘resilient’, but challenge the conditions of their formations.

Some years ago, I was lucky enough to encounter the people at the Los Angeles Poverty Department. With their work cutting across performative arts and grounded #housingactivism, they provide a quintessential community resource for residents in Skid Row. One of their initiatives is called ‘Walk the Talk’, and it consists of a biannual parade of local performers – a moment of celebration for many men and women in the community.

Now an impressive multi-media archive gives all of us access to 68 performers talking about life, #homelessness, #radicalhousing, #resistance. This is genuinely one of the most powerful archives around ‘homelessness’, and everything that goes with it, which I ever had the pleasure to excavate and enjoy.

I am honoured I was invited to respond to its creation along with a number of other people. You can check the Archive and the available responses here:

If you want to know more about the Los Angeles Poverty Department, and in particular about the Archive project, check

Thanks to the wonderful John Malpede, Henriëtte Brouwers and Clancey Cornell, and to Skid Row residents and performers for having me.

Dwelling in Liminalities – A lecture @CriticalUrbanisms

Since the beautiful people at the Critical Urbanisms lab in Basel recorded it… let me share.

In this lecture I try to make sense of underground inhabitation, and the propositional politics of the uninhabitable in contemporary Bucharest. This is work I started in 2003, and it continues to evolve, at its own tempo. The main aim is to encompass the colonies of home/homelessness and think about the margins as site of resistance (hooks) and as site of otherwise dwelling assembled through praxis of radical care. The latter is not there to accept the status quo – it ain’t resilience. Instead, it signals more profound and radical challenges to the entrenched violence of our anti-ecological, racist, gendered and extractive ideals of ‘home’.

Beyond the stuff I’ve published around the tunnels in Cultural Anthropology and the IJURR, there is a now under-review book for Duke on the politics of home(lessness). And then, of course, the work of many others who have inspired mine, the struggle of my comrades Frontul Comun pentru Dreptul la Locuire, and this small video above. Avanti!



Beginning my ‘Inhabiting Radical Housing’ ERC Starting grant project

After some personal and COVID-19 delay, today we start my European Research Council (ERC) project on “Inhabiting Radical Housing”!

I look forward to the next 5 years of fieldwork, decolonial housing research & undercommons building and praxis across the globe. The project will allow for collaborations with old and new comrades, scholars and networks in several regions of the world. You can find a short presentation of the main aim of this work below.

In the next months, we’ll start hiring & launch new tools for engagement and direct support for action, at the Urban Institute in Sheffield. Also, some new manoeuvrings to be expected with my dear friend AbdouMaliq Simone. More info soon!

Project’s aims
According to UN-Habitat, each year millions of people face forced eviction from their homes, while a staggering 1.6 billion are inadequately housed. Forecasts suggest housing precarity will continue to grow in future, worldwide. In response, grassroots housing movements are becoming increasingly common. Crucially, these groups fight for more than just housing, often advancing critiques of wider societal inequalities. Yet little is known of the broader significance of these struggles, and research has failed to offer an understanding of geographically dispersed movements. The ways in which the fight for the right to housing operates is essential to understand contemporary urban life. The project will fill these critical gaps through a decolonial Inhabiting Radical Housing Approach and empirical research at a global scale.

First, the project identifies the importance of a historical understanding of dwelling precarity, to appreciate the relevance of housing struggles worldwide (Objective I). Second, it investigates and profiles prominent grassroots networks in the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia to analyse their goals and organisational culture (Objective II). To appreciate the wider significance of radical housing resistance, the project deploys an ambitious ethnographic encounter with grassroots struggles in eight emblematic cities (Objective III). It then brings selected participants and activists together in a series of innovative action-oriented activities (defined from below), fostering the exchange of peer-to-peer knowledge and offering support to direct action (Objective IV). Finally, the project will gather these insights into an innovative critical and decolonial framework, which will lead to agenda-setting publications, interventions, and academic scholarship (Objective V).

The project will contribute to housing, urban and geographical studies, as well as to grassroots knowledge, opening a new phase in understanding the global fight against housing precarity.


Worlds of Homelessness street magazine, with AOWC and Goethe LA

It is a great privilege for me to be part of this publication by the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles & Arts of the Working Class with so many friends coming out of the #WorldsofHomelessness event that took place last year in LA.

Essays by Ananya Roy, the LA Poverty Department & activists fighting homelessness all over the world. My two cents focus on ‘reentering the politics of home’.

PDF free:…/awc_extrablatt5_255x350mm_lay101.pdf

New paper in Cultural Anthropology: Underground inscriptions

Out now in Cultural Anthropology a powerful colloquy on “Gestures of Care”, of which I’m flattered to be part of, together with my friends Lauren Cubellis, Lisa Stevenson, Ken MacLeish and Zoë Wool.

In there, I expand on the politics of care in underground Bucharest, of which I’ve written recently in IJURR too.

Thanks to Lauren for the amazing work of putting this together!

Free at

Underground inscriptions
This essay examines the politics of home in underground Bucharest, and the ways relationships of care among homeless drug users emerge amid everyday violence and exclusion, illuminating the unconventional practices of belonging that take shape in transient communal spaces such as underground electric, transportation, and waste-management systems. The traces of systemic exclusion in these experiences converge in makeshift forms of kinship and care, provoking questions of solidarity, fragility, and the political potential of recognizing such forms through ethnographic collaboration.

Keynote @EUGEO on Lessness: Recentering the politics of home

Today I will open the 7th EUGEO Congress in conjunction with the 51st Conference of Irish Geographers, here in the west of Ireland – Galway City. The theme for the 2019 conference is Re-Imagining Europe’s Future Society and Landscapes.  This is one of the largest gathering of Geographers in the world, alongside the RGS-IBG (UK) and the AAG (USA).

In my keynote I will situate my grounded critical approach to homelessness, as I have developed in my research it in the last 10 years. This is essentially a call to de-instutionalize our approach to the matter and to cease seeing ‘homelessness’ as in opposition to idealized notions of ‘home’. The latter needs to be re-thought in their entirety in order to tackle the root of housing precarity, and of the trauma associated with it. These are key themes that I am developing at the Urban Institute, through the Life at the Margins research theme.

Thank you to Kathy Reilly (Galway) for the invitation and support. The abstract of my intervention can be found below.

Abstract for EUGEO conference
On Lessness: Recentering the politics of home.
Michele Lancione

Homelessness is one of the strongest cultural signifiers of the contemporary urban age. It works as a machine intersecting structural economic inequalities with cultural stigmatisation, on top of which a whole assemblage of personal traumatic experiences, institutional policing, and charitable interventions flourish. Despite its pervasiveness, homelessness is still framed as a ‘phenomenon’, a social ‘issue’ amongst others to be dealt with: homelessness as the negation of ‘home’. But what if homelessness is not the exception arising from the lack of shelter, but instead the full and most quintessential representation of what ‘home’ is within capitalistic modes of organising and being? In other words, what if ‘homelessness’ cannot be solved, unless one is ready to fundamentally alter the parameters of ‘home’? This keynote address ‘homelessness’ as a socio, cultural and economic process configured within an exclusionary understanding of ‘home’ and assembled through a number of governmentalities, which are identified with the notion of ‘lessness’. Through several ethnographic vignettes, the fundamental relationship between ‘lessness’ and ‘home’ is showed, revealing the impossibility of any reconfiguration without radical change. The latter is addressed through a number of propositions around a new politics of ‘home’.

Relevant works in relation to the theme of the keynote:

  • Lancione, M. (monograph in preparation). On Lessness: Recentering the politics of home
  • Lancione, M. (2019) Weird Exoskeletons: Propositional Politics and the Making of Home in Underground Bucharest. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 43.3, 535–50.
  • Lancione, M. (2016a) Racialised dissatisfaction: homelessness management and the everyday assemblage of difference. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 41.4, 363–75.
  • Lancione, M. ed. (2016b) Rethinking life at the margins: the assemblage of contexts, subjects and politics. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, London ; New York.
  • Lancione, M. (2016). Beyond Homelessness Studies. European Journal of Homelessness, 10(3), 163-176
  • Lancione, M. (2014c). The spectacle of the poor. Or: ‘Wow!! Awesome. Nice to know that people care!’ Social & Cultural Geography, 15(7), 693–713.
  • Lancione, M. (2014b). Entanglements of faith: Discourses, practices of care and homeless people in an Italian City of Saints. Urban Studies, 51(14), 3062–3078.