Tu Casa Es Mi Casa: Squatting in Eastern Europe

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 11:30 AM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Grzegorz PIOTROWSKI , School of Social Sciences, Södertörn University, Huddinge, Sweden
Cities have been the arena for social movements actions for long time, however with the recent changes in urban development (privatization of public spaces, reduction of public services, gentrification etc.) recently there are more movements that focus on the city as the focal point of their activism. In Central and Eastern Europe, which is the ground of intensive introduction of neoliberalism the transformative processes are more intensive than in other parts of the world with intensive re-privatization, increasing gentrification, rapid changes in social composition or the emergence of gated communities. Various social mobilizations and social movements are trying to opposing these tendencies and the squatting is the most radical amongst them. It is particularly interesting as it usually tries to combine down-to-earth problem solution (i.e. campaign to save a park or against privatization of a public space) with radical anti-capitalist ideology. Critique of property (through squatting abandoned buildings), consumerist way of life (through D.I.Y. lifestyle) is particularly problematic in the region where capitalism is new and was desired and such movements are not deeply rooted and emerged in the last 25-30 years. 

This paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted mostly in Poland, also in the Czech Republic and Hungary where I collected numerous in-depth interviews with squatting activists, made several participant observations and analyzed many media coverages (both mainstream and activist / independent media). In the paper I want to focus on the intersections between the radical squatting movement and moderate movements such as tenants movement to show the transformative power of the squatting movement on other actors. I will be basing primarily on two case studies from Poznań and Warsaw complementing them with examples from other countries from Central and Eastern Europe and the results - in my opinion - can be addressed to other developing societies.