Awarded: European Research Council Starting Grant on ‘Radical Housing’

I am so happy to share that I am one of the 2019 recipients of the European Research Council Starting Grant, with my project “Radical Housing: Cities and the global fight against housing precarity

This has been such a humbling experience and an honour!

I couldn’t have done it without the support received from the Faculty of Social Science at Sheffield. A huge thanks to my colleagues at the Urban Institute (now it’s two ERC recipients there with the wonderful Vanesa Castan Broto) and to my colleagues at USP (in particular John Flint and Ryan Powell). And also many others indeed — including the wonderful
Colin McFarlane and Paolo Boccagni who shared their projects and advised on how to go about this whole ERC business! Also a continuining thank you to my comrades of the Radical Housing Journal and of the Frontul Comun pentru Dreptul la Locuire for the continuing inspiration and solidarity.

Finally a huge thank you to my family and to my partner Leo for the patience and support. Below you can read the abstract and logo of this project, which will begin in Spring 2020.

 

Radical Housing: Cities and the global fight against housing precarity

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. RadicalHOUSING will fill these critical gaps through an innovative Radical Housing Approach and pioneering 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 experts together in a Global Forum of Radical Housing, fostering the exchange of peer-to-peer knowledge to generate further findings (Objective IV). Finally, the project will gather these insights into an innovative critical comparative framework, which will lead to agenda-setting publications, interventions, and academic scholarship (Objective V).

RadicalHOUSING is a ground-breaking project that 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.

Joining the Unequal cities network @UCLA

I am thrilled to join #UnequalCities Network at UCLA as a core partner. This is one of the most exciting housing justice initiative bridging research & activism out there at the moment http://unequalcities.org. A big thank you to Ananya Roy for the invitation!

I am also happy to share this with a couple of Radical Housing Journal’s core Editors (Erin MC EL and Melissa Garcia Lamarca) www.radicalhousingjournal.org (and of course, there is also the amazing Desiree Fields in there too!)

New paper: Radical housing and the politics of dwelling as difference, in IJHP

Earlier this year I was invited to give one of the keynotes at the Housing Studies Association conference in Sheffield, UK. My talk was sponsored by the International Journal of Housing Policy, which has now published an extended version of my speech at the HSA.

The paper, entitled Radical housing: on the politics of dwelling as difference, is the first of the Journal’s new series of ‘Housing Futures’ essay, where leading scholars will be invited to address the contemporary housing debate from different angles. In my contribution I attack mainstream notions of what is considered to be ‘radical’ when it comes to ‘housing’, and I introduce a more nuanced (decolonial and feminist) take with the notion of ‘dwelling as difference’.

This paper expands on my previous works on housing precarity, homelessness and housing resistance, but it also opens up a new phase in my research interests. It also goes hand in hand with the work that I am doing with a number of comrades in the Radical Housing Journal.

The paper can be downloaded from the publisher’s website here, or on Research Gate or Academia.edu. Below you can find the abstract.

Radical housing: on the politics of dwelling as difference

Urbanites worldwide fight for their right to housing and the city in ways that encompass what Westernized and masculine takes on ‘radical politics’ make of them. This intervention proposes a decolonial, grounded and feminist approach to investigate how resistance to housing precarity emerges from uncanny places, uninhabitable ‘homes’ and marginal propositions. This is a form of ‘dwelling as difference’ that is able to challenge our compromised ‘habitus’ of home at its root, from the ground of its everyday unfolding. The article argues that only looking within those cracks, and aligning to their politics, new radical housing futures can be built with urbanites worldwide.

Keynote @HSA on Radical housing: On the politics of dwelling as difference

On Friday the 12nd of April, 2019, I gave my plenary speech at the Housing Studies Association Conference in Sheffield. The conference, organized by Ryan Powell (Sheffield) and Jennifer Hoolachan (Cardiff) was centred around themes of housing precarity, activism and resistance. The level of discussion and the quality of the papers presented was of a very high standard and the all event was a huge success.

My keynote was sponsored by the International Journal of Housing Policy, with the incredible support of Dallas Rogers (Sydney) and Emma Power (Sydney). The paper will be soon published as the first of their new series of essays around ‘Housing Future’. This was an incredible opportunity for me to think around some of the key themes in my research, from homelessness to housing resistance and everything in-between.

Below you can find the abstract of my intervention at the HSA.

Abstract for HSA conference
Radical Housing: On the politics of dwelling as difference
Michele Lancione
m.lancione@sheffield.ac.uk

In their modes of organising and fighting housing injustice, radical housing movements demand more than ‘just’ housing. Across the urban north and south, they bring to the fore profound critiques of dominant economic, cultural, and societal inequalities. Scholarship investigating these grassroots efforts is copious but still limited: it theorises ‘radical’ struggles mostly from a Western tradition; it largely fails to bring resistance into dialogue with new modes of theorising the city; and it is still too cautious in its theorisation of the political. More and better can be said to grasp how millions of urbanites worldwide change their cities and lives through their fight for decent housing. The paper advances a new epistemological orientation to tackle these questions, expanding on decolonial, vitalist and processual approaches to urban studies. It proposes to rethink the politics of urban precarity from the ground of dwelling, as a historical and generative assemblage that needs to be traced in its unfolding to appreciate its unconventional politics. The paper contributes to scholarship interested in a critical understanding of embodiment, politics, and housing resistance beyond established conventions of ‘radical’ practice and theory.

Launching The Radical Housing Journal

I am so proud and energized by the launch of the Radical Housing Journal: a new, peer-reviewed, open-source publication that cuts across the academy and housing movements internationally.

Together with a feminist, anti-racist and horizontally organized collective made of 13 people (10 women, 3 men) scattered across the globe, we have been working very hard in the last three years to bring this project to fruition. Following the successful launch of our first issue at the 2019 AAG in Washington, we are now actively looking for high quality contributions to be published in 2020, addressing the root causes of housing injustice, its experiences and resistance.

The RHJ is a complex machine that aims to work for radical politics both within its own structuring and mechanisms of knowledge production, and through the support of direct actions in the realm of housing resistance.

Below, you can read the editorial that the RHJ Editorial Collective wrote to present the Journal to its readers, in issue 1.1. Issue 1.2 will be out in September.  To know more about how we work, feel free to visit our website: www.radicalhousingjournal.org.

Introducing the Radical Housing Journal

RHJ Editorial Collective
PUBLISHED IN ISSUE 1.1 // EDITORIALS

The idea for the Radical Housing Journal emerged in 2016 from few but passionate conversations in activist and scholarly spaces. From this, the idea developed at a dizzying speed, and the collective grew from two to five to 13 committed scholar-activists spread across the globe. Most of us did not know each other before joining the journal and many of us have never physically met. In under three years, we have set up an editorial collective, managed a complex web of tasks and projects (related to financing, web-site, and much more), received an overwhelming number of submissions, and are now proud to present our first issue.

The urgency of the project is obviously also a product and response to the level of mobilization around the fight for the right to housing and the city that has been taking place in recent years worldwide. Perhaps, the RHJ was, in a sense, bound to happen. This said, many of us have been involved in radical housing politics and politically engaged research before concepts such as gentrification became such hot topics. For a very long time we have lacked a genuinely open place to discuss housing as a practice in the making, as a space of contestation, and as a politics in its own regard, beyond the calculus of academic citations and the confinements of normative urban studies and housing theory. Crucially, we have lacked a space that scholars, scholar-activists, activists, artists and many more could use to debate ideas, advance knowledge, theory and practices around a radical approach to housing.

For us, that ‘radicality’ lies in how we approach housing as a fundamentally political question, inseparable from implicated, everyday practices of inhabiting space and challenging the forces that make the world unhomely and uninhabitable. It also lies in the journal’s capacity to be put to use by its makers and readers. It is a radicality that has its own political orientation – as clearly expressed in our Manifesto – which pivots around the following points.

First, for us, housing and home are unalienable under any circumstance. There is not much to add to this point; we believe that any form of forced eviction is wrong, and that any form of housing insecurity (as defined by the ones experiencing it) should be contested.

Second, we believe that given the complexity and the potentiality of housing to be absorbed into racial capitalism, thereby catalyzing many forms of exploitation, accumulation, imperialism, raciality, and annihilation – that we need to go beyond the analysis of what problems already exist. Rather, we underline the urgency in contributing to knowledge-sharing for transformation and housing justice. The RHJ wants to create a space that challenges the study of conditions and processes that render housing alienable, combining heterogeneous theoretical standpoints. We therefore welcome transdisciplinarity and transnational approaches to conceptualizing the structural aspects and everyday elements of housing, housing justice, and resistance. We also encourage different methodological approaches, and provide tools for radical epistemology that make use of these methods.

Third, the RHJ promotes a non-exploitative, anti-capitalist, ecologically oriented, antiracist, feminist, decolonial, and horizontal politics in its own structure and functioning. We are autonomous in our making, politics, and financing. Our two Collectives (Editorial and Extended) are horizontally structured and open for new members to join. Internally, these organizational orientations are not always straightforward, and create productive, ethical, and practical tensions that, we hope, result in a more inclusive publication.

The Journal was designed to welcome different kinds of content and elicit conversations across different domains of inquiry and action. The first two sections host substantive original works and are blind peer reviewed (by one academic oriented and one activist-based), while the latter two sections offer for a more “immediate” style (which is reviewed internally by the issues’ Editors). These are:

The long read / Focus on critical analysis and theory-making
For papers focused on theorizing housing resistance and activism worldwide. Papers aim for theoretical innovation and conceptual finesse driven by speculative, case-specific or comparative arguments.

Retrospectives / Focus on specific cases, histories, actions
For papers oriented at reconstructing, in detail, particular histories of movements, organisations and/or actions worldwide. Papers aim for historical rigour and depth.

Conversations / Reflections from the field of action and organisation
Pieces written collectively, to reflect on specific actions and strategies. We welcome reflections and debates on the challenges of particular organising approaches and practices.

Updates / Reviews, provocations, updates on actions
For reviews of books, films, art, and more; as well as updates on current actions.

Launching a new Journal has required more than two years of intensive collective labor and energies, but we are very proud of what we have set up. We aimed high and for the best quality. Of the more than 70 submission that we received for this first issue, we selected 15, which were then thoughtfully peer reviewed, editorially assessed, and accepted or rejected accordingly. A similarly rigorous editorial process was followed for Issue 1.2, ‘Interrogating Rent’, which we will publish in the Autumn.

This massive collective labor is what makes the RHJ; we want to treasure and nurture that collectivity. For this reason, we have designed the Journal with care towards future forms of collective ownership that can last beyond individual editors, and beyond the struggles presented in its pages. We have done so with an attention to the politics of publishing across the boundaries set by the Academy and across geographies. This is a Journal that is designed to host and to foster intellectual and action-oriented debates around radical housing with an attention to geographic specificities and an orientation to experimental and productive comparisons. We want for it to be our sparkling and shining home. And we want this home to be radically open, which we understand in two key ways. First, all content published in the RHJ is open access and will stay so, against the logics of enclosure of much academic publishing, where significant knowledge remains trapped behind paywalls. Second, we want to keep the RHJ open by valuing the work that goes into thinking, researching and writing about and from housing struggles.

Crucially, the RHJ aspires to build a system of self-financing that sustains its independent, radical politics both internally and externally, and offers a small compensation to its writers. Please join our fundraising campaign by donating, if you can, or help by spreading the campaign around.

If you see yourself in our Manifesto, then do get in touch. We await hearing from you and working with you, wherever you are. Our open call for papers for subsequent issues are now live here. Feel free to submit papers and ideas, and please do get in touch about anything else (also about joining our Collective, or becoming a RHJ reviewer) using our contact page, or drop us a line at collective@radicalhousingjournal.org. And, don’t forget to follow us on twitter @Radical_Housing.

We hope that you will enjoy and join this radical endeavour as readers and critical interlocutors, beginning with our Issue 1.1: ‘Post-2008’ as a field of action and inquiry in uneven housing justice struggles. Our second Issue (1.2) ‘Interrogating Rent: structures, struggles and subjectivities’ is well into production and will be published in September 2019.

In Solidarity,

The RHJ Editorial Collective

Erin, Mara, Mel, Meli and Michele

CfP for the RC21 in Delhi: Dwelling in the interstices

 

RC21, September, 18-21, 2019 @Delhi

CFP: Dwelling in the interstices: modes of inhabitation and common life in the contemporary city

Please submit your 250 words abstract by the 20/01/19 filling this form: https://goo.gl/forms/v1QLbEe61Mp15kLf1

Convenors

  • Dr Margherita Grazioli, Postdoctoral Fellow in Urban Studies, Social Sciences Department, Gran Sasso Science Institute, L’Aquila (Italy)
  • Dr Michele Lancione, Senior Research Fellow, Urban Institute, University of Sheffield (UK)
  • Dr Gaja Maestri, ESRC Postdoctoral Research Associate, School of Media, Communication and Sociology, University of Leicester (UK).

Rationale

Inhabiting the contemporary city is increasingly a matter of dwelling in its interstices. As urban spaces become privatized, securitised and governed through the logic of immediate private profit and return, urbanites worldwide organise to craft multifarious forms of urban
livings. Through this panel we are interested in attracting cutting-edge scholarship investigating the variegated practices challenging the predominant logic of bordering and governing the city.

The latter include specific devices of governance and control assembling the urban across the north and the south through privatising devices that include, among others: the marketisation of housing; gentrification; racial, spatial, social segregation; the adaptation of
urban routes to logistics movements; borders’ and mobility’s policing and securitisation. Urbanites worldwide contest these processes on a daily basis, constructing forms of dwelling at the interstices of urban space and politics. Recent scholarship has increasingly pinpointed these struggles, looking at housing squats; social centres; self-managed urban camps; co-housing and hosting; self-construction; spontaneous settlements; temporary autonomous zones (TAZs); and many others.

In this panel we are interested in exploring new forms of dwelling that articulate manifold commons within saturated and highly conflicting urban environments. The panel is not necessarily limited to the modalities listed above, and we welcome contributions that show uncanny forms of living vis-à-vis increased urban uninhabitability across the North and the South.

Key themes

We invite papers addressing, but not limited to, the following questions:

  • What forms of alternative urban dwelling are emerging across cities worldwide?
  • How do these alternative practices unfold, and what are their modes of organising?
  • What commons and solidarities are produced through encounters in these spaces?
  • How can urban theory better theorise urban interstices and their politics?
  • What are the affects and material cultures activated at the interstices of the urban?
  • How are these forms of urban dwelling re-captured by dispositifs of institutional governance?

Submit your abstract

Please submit your 250 words abstract by the 20/01/19 filling this form: https://goo.gl/forms/v1QLbEe61Mp15kLf1. If you have any questions regarding this session, please email Margherita (margherita.grazioli@gssi.it), Michele (m.lancione@sheffield.ac.uk) and Gaja (g.maestri@leicester.ac.uk). More info on the 2019 RC21 conference can be found at this page: https://rc21delhi2019.com