(2007) Urban movements and paradoxical utopianisms [ENG]

Saturday 14 July 2007, by Web

All the versions of this article: [English]

Martínez López, M. A. (Director) (2007, July 12). Squatters’ movement and paradoxical utopianism. 8th international utopian studies society conference. Lecture conducted from , Plymouth .


The Squatters’ Movement in Spain has been developing along more than twenty years. Beyond the figures of involved buildings and activists, evictions, demonstrations and so on, a rich experience in terms of political struggle at the municipal level was accumulated. How can be explained this “success”? Part is due to structural conditions according to laws, repression, bonds between social movements, etc. Another part depends on the capacities of the movement for recreating, in practice, a counterculture that stems from the libertarian and utopian ideals from the 1960s and even from previous anarchist ideological frames. What is interesting to note is that, simultaneously, this is a post-leftist movement (and, for some, a post-modern and just life-style one) with no clear appeal neither to immediate revolution, to political parties, labour unions nor to the power of State. Therefore, I will argue that Spanish Squatters were fed by utopian and neo-anarchist ideas and they could put them in practice in very everyday life and communal terms, but, on the other hand, they broke up with the very idea of utopia in terms of its application to the whole society, political system or even the city and municipalities. Work instability, spatial nomadism and fast replacement of activists are some of the evidences that support the latter statement. The former is mainly proven by the experience of collective self-management of squatted buildings, and the opposition to institutional ways of political action. Documents, observant participation and interviews are the sources of the information used for this aim. Finally, we sustain that the social and political creativity of this minority urban movement, its persistence along the years and the flow of messages disseminated within society and the alter-globalisation movement, require a careful attention to the utopian frames of meaning that feed back the movement once and again.