An Open-Air Self-Managed Social Center Called Occupy

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  • 1 McGill University, Canada sophie.toupin@mcgill.ca

I propose the concept of squatting as a way of exploring and understanding the recent Occupy movement and other manifestations that have taken hold of a physical and virtual space. To do this, I focus on squatting as a protest tactic employed by social movements, to gather, create and transform private and public spaces in common spaces. I follow Miguel Martinez (2006) premise that squatting has been aimed at constructing liberating spaces for living, communicating, and criticizing the global city and confronting capitalism. Using such framework to analyse the Occupy movement helps bring to the forefront what appears to be a somewhat similar experience, this time however, not solely via the occupation of buildings, but also via the occupation of parks or squares. The act of reclaiming and decommodifying open ‘public’ spaces in an attempt to create autonomous experiments visible to and ‘experimentable’ by all seem to have brought much visibility, appeal and relative openness to and of the occupy movement. From there, I discuss the particularities with moments of squatting, particularly with the occupied social centers movement, and instances of occupy sites in North America to underline a number of hidden and visible characteristics and features these phenomena share. In North America, the concept of squatting, including the practice of occupied social centers, seems to have had much less prevalence and impact on social movements than in Europe, but the occupy movement seems to have opened up new repertoire of actions for both activist and non-activists a like.

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Contention

The Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Protest

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