(2016) Squatters and migrants in Madrid: Interactions, contexts and cycles [EN]

Wednesday 13 July 2016, by Miguel Angel Martinez

All the versions of this article: [English]

Miguel A. Martínez (2016) Squatters and migrants in Madrid: Interactions, contexts and cycles. Urban Studies http://usj.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/...

Squatters and migrants use the city space in a peculiar and anomalous manner. Their contributions to the social and political production of urban space are not usually considered crucial. Furthermore, their mutual relationship is under-researched. In this paper I investigate the participation of migrants in the squatting of abandoned buildings. This may entail autonomous forms of occupation but also various kinds of interactions with native squatters. By looking historically at the city of Madrid I distinguish four major forms of interactions. I collect evidence in order to show that deprivation-based squatting is not necessarily the prevailing type. The forms of ‘empowerment’ and ‘engagement’ were increasingly developed while ‘autonomy’ and ‘solidarity’ were continuously present. These variations occurred because of specific drivers within the cycles of movements’ protests and other social and political contexts which facilitated the cooperation between squatters and migrants, although language barriers, discrimination in the housing market and police harassment constrained them too. Therefore, I argue first that two key social organisations triggered the interactions in different protest cycles. Second, I show how, in spite of the over-representation of Latin American migrants, the political squatting movement in Madrid has consistently incorporated groups of migrants and their struggles in accordance with anti-fascist, anti-racist and anti-xenophobic claims and practices. The analysis also provides a nuanced understanding about the ‘political’ implications of squatting when migrants are involved.