The ‘right to the city’ in the post-welfare metropolis. Community building, autonomous infrastructures and urban commons in Rome’s self-organised housing squats.
thesisposted on 15.06.2018, 14:48 by Margherita Grazioli
In the city of Rome, the housing crisis has reached emergency proportions as part of an interrelated and ongoing crisis of social reproduction intrinsic to the process of neoliberal restructuring in the prolonged aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis. Part of this crisis are the estimated that 10,000 people are currently living inside more than 100 previously empty buildings, of both private and public ownership, that have been occupied and self-renovated by the squatters as an autonomous response towards their condition of severe housing deprivation. These numbers present a continuum with the connotation of Rome as a self-made city in which Housing Rights Movements have historically represented a catalyser for thriving urban struggles. This thesis contends that nowadays housing squats represent spaces where the 'right to the city' is re-appropriated through the autonomous regeneration of unused urban ecologies, the commoning of social reproduction, and the crafting of urban commons. It aims at contributing to the field of studies of Critical Organisation Studies, Urban Studies and Urban Geography concerned with urban squatting and the organisational forms adopted by grassroots urban movements within the current phase of post-crisis, post-welfare neoliberal restructuring. The analysis is structured around the interviews, fieldnotes and visual materials collected during a one-year long activist-ethnography carried out inside two housing squats affiliated with the Movement Blocchi Precari Metropolitani, Tiburtina 770 and Metropoliz. Chapter 1 contextualises squatting for housing purposes within a broader crisis of social reproduction in relation to the notion of 'right to the city'. Chapter 2 describes the epistemological, methodological and ethical challenges intrinsic to the chosen activist-ethnographic approach for its subjective orientation and scope. Chapter 3 contextualises the historical, geographical and legislative framework pertaining squatting within which the Movements operate. Chapter 4 describes the social composition of the squatters and the initial process of community-building. Chapter 5 recounts the making of the squats into autonomous infrastructures where producing manifold urban commons. Chapter 6 discusses the different strategies of local activism and networking implemented by the squatters. Chapter 7 narrates the role of squatters as part of the Housing Rights Movements for contending 'right to the city', problematising it in relation to the forms of activism and organisation they configure.