Squatting and urban commons

This is a collective research process within SqEK (Squatting Everywhere Kollective) which deals with the politics of self-management (autonomy and self-organisation) as it is practised in squats inside out. We want to interrogate the achievements and limitations of self-management as it has been practiced by squatters and to gather interesting cases assessing the outcomes produced by urban activism/movements in which squatting is a relevant feature. Therefore, both activists and academics could learn from the struggles in which squatting is concerned.

This means we aim to analyse significant cases of “success” and “failure” in the production of urban commons (according to the activists’ and researchers’ judgements and by taking into account different meanings, possibilities and types of “success-failure”) in order to learn from them. Both ongoing and past experiences can be included as cases. A significant involvement of activists in the research process, not as mere informants, is also crucial (i.e. bridging academia and activism). This can be divided into two major topics to investigate in every case:

  1. Self-management
    • Type of self-management achieved (in its different stages, before and after repression/legalisation, inside and outside the squats, according to different economic and political-ideological components, etc.)
    • Anti-capitalist dimensions (and contradictions) of squatting for living, for the promotion of Social Centres, for solidarity with vulnerable groups, for contesting urban policies, etc.
  2. Urban commons
    • Squatters and squats involved in social movements that defend, manage or create urban commons –how and why?
    • Contributions of squatting activism to the different forms of “institutionalisation” (legalisation and negotiations with the authorities or owners) or resistance-to-institutionalisation of urban commons (squats included).

Project start



Internally funded


Miguel A. Martínez, Professor in Sociology
Dominika V. Polanska, Associate Professor in Sociology


Martínez, Miguel A. (2020) Urban Commons from an Anti-Capitalist Approach. Partecipazione e Conflitto 13(3): 1390-1410. http://siba-ese.unisalento.it/index.php/paco/article/view/23053

Martínez, Miguel A. & Polanska, Dominika (2020) Squatting and Urban Commons: Creating Alternatives to Neoliberalism. Partecipazione e Conflitto 13(3): 1244-1251. http://siba-ese.unisalento.it/index.php/paco/article/view/23044

Dominika V. Polanska, Timothy Weldon (2020) In Search of Urban Commons Through Squatting: The Role of Knowledge Sharing in the Creation and Organization of Everyday Utopian Spaces in Sweden. Partecipazione e Conflitto 13(3):1355-1372 http://siba-ese.unisalento.it/index.php/paco/article/view/23051

Martínez, Miguel A. (2020). Squatters in the capitalist city. Housing, Justice and Urban Politics. New York: Routledge.

Dadusc, Deanna, Margherita Grazioli & Miguel A. Martínez (2019). Introduction: citizenship as inhabitance? Migrant housing squats versus institutional accommodation. Citizenship Studies 23(6): 521-539.

Martínez, Miguel A. (2019). Good and Bad Squatters? Challenging Hegemonic Narratives and Advancing Anti-Capitalist Views of Squatting in Western European Cities. Culture Unbound 11(1): 165-189.

Martínez, Miguel A.  (2019). The autonomy of struggles and the self-management of squats: legacies from intertwined movements. Interface 11(1): 178-199.

Yip, Ngai Ming, Miguel A. Martínez & Xiaoyi Sun (Eds.) (2019). Contested Cities and Urban Activism. Singapore: Palgrave-McMillan.

Martínez, Miguel A. (2020). European squatters’ movements and the right to the city. In Flesher Fominaya, Cristina & Feenstra, Ramón A. (Eds.) Routledge Handbook of Contemporary European Social Movements. Protest in Turbulent Times. Abingdon: Routledge, 155-167.

Campos, Clarissa Cordeiro & Martínez, Miguel A. (2020). Squatting activism in Brazil and Spain: Articulations between the right to housing and the right to the city In Grashoff, Udo (Ed.) Comparative Approaches to Informal Housing Around the Globe. London: UCL Press, 110-129.

Martínez, Miguel A. & Roitman, S. (2019). Informal settlers. In Orum, A. (Ed.) Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Urban and Regional Studies. John Wiley & Sons.

Martínez, Miguel A. (2019). Framing Urban Movements, Contesting Global Capitalism and Liberal Democracy. In Yip, Ngai Ming, Miguel A. Martínez & Xiaoyi Sun (eds.) Contested Cities and Urban Activism. Singapore: Palgrave, 25-45.

First conference held in Stockholm 27–28 April, 2018 (https://squattingandurbancommons.blogspot.com/).

Workshop held in Catania (Italy) 13–17 June, 2018.

Last modified: 2022-12-06