What’s so radical about refugee squats? An exploration of urban community-based responses to mass displacement in Athens

Zaman, Tahir (2019) What’s so radical about refugee squats? An exploration of urban community-based responses to mass displacement in Athens. In: Birey, Tegiye, Cantat, Céline, Mączynska, Ewa and Sevinin, Eda (eds.) Challenging the political across borders: migrants and solidarity struggles. CPS Books . Central European University, Budapest, pp. 129-162. ISBN 9789633860076

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Abstract

Based on ethnographic fieldwork of refugee-led autonomous housing collectives in Athens carried out over the summer of 2016, this chapter investigates whether alternative solidarity initiatives reproduce power dynamics and representations of refugee others inherent in the existing humanitarian architecture or effectively challenge the host-guest relations underpinning hegemonic understandings of refugee protection and assistance. Recently arrived refugees and migrants find themselves at the loci of intersecting social relations that append themselves to an existing infrastructure of less-visible forms of welfare outside state-led social support. To better understand these emergent spaces and socialities, the chapter mobilises the example of autonomous refugee housing collectives, or squats, located largely in and around the Exarcheia district of Athens. This case study reveals the potential and limits of migrant solidarity organising - highlighting the competing, conflicting, and at times contradictory discourses and practices of actors involved. The chapter concludes by questioning whether the transience of refugee populations in Athens adds a further layer of complexity to the possibility of enacting egalitarian modes of solidarity. In so doing, I consider how normative readings of hospitality imbue solidarity initiatives with migrants and refugees. The argument presented here is that refugee squats in Athens are embedded in an almost ineliminable hegemonic humanitarian logic and are thus caught between hospitality and abject space.

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Depositing User: Sharon Krummel
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2019 17:08
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2019 17:08
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/87487
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