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Dramaturgies of dissent: the spatial politics of squatting in Berlin, 1968-

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This paper builds on an emergent scholarly interest in the political geography of the contemporary city. If recent struggles over the meaning of urban space testify to the interarticulation of neo-liberal norms with an increasingly revanchist approach to local governance, the main aim of the paper is to acknowledge various attempts to contest these developments. More specifically, it seeks to highlight the role and significance of the German Hausbesetzerbewegung (squatter movement) from the 1960s onwards. Despite a growing body of literature on the role of '1968' as a watershed moment in the evolution of new social movements in West Germany, there remains little empirical work on the role of squatter movements within a broader matrix of protest and resistance. To what extent was the squatter movement in West Germany successful in articulating a creative reworking of the built form and urban space more generally? In what way were these counterclaims to the city performed? And how were these alternative cartographies organised at the level of the everyday? The paper proposes to answer these framing questions with particular reference to Berlin's squatting scene and longstanding struggles since the late 1960s over architectural space, ecological practice and 'insurgent' forms of citizenship.

Keywords: Berlin; architecture and performance; rights to the city; social movements in Germany; squatting; urban commons

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Geography, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

Publication date: May 1, 2011

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