Search results

Open Access (free)
Paradoxes of hierarchy and authority in the squatters movement in Amsterdam
Author: Nazima Kadir

This book is an ethnographic study of the internal dynamics of a subcultural community that defines itself as a social movement. While the majority of scholarly studies on this movement focus on its official face, on its front stage, this book concerns itself with the ideological and practical paradoxes at work within the micro-social dynamics of the backstage, an area that has so far been neglected in social movement studies. The central question is how hierarchy and authority function in a social movement subculture that disavows such concepts. The squatters’ movement, which defines itself primarily as anti-hierarchical and anti-authoritarian, is profoundly structured by the unresolved and perpetual contradiction between both public disavowal and simultaneous maintenance of hierarchy and authority within the movement. This study analyzes how this contradiction is then reproduced in different micro-social interactions, examining the methods by which people negotiate minute details of their daily lives as squatter activists in the face of a funhouse mirror of ideological expectations reflecting values from within the squatter community, that, in turn, often refract mainstream, middle class norms.

Nazima Kadir

houses are fundamental to the structure of the squatters movement in Amsterdam. Living groups within squatted households who identify as part of the squatters movement, 1 consequently both reflect and refract larger movement dynamics of hierarchy and authority. They reflect the standards of a larger movement in the sense that one’s squatter capital contributes to one’s status position within a squatted household. They refract in that within a household, the highest values are to maintain a lively and peaceful

in The autonomous life?
Open Access (free)
The autonomous life?
Nazima Kadir

the neighborhood. Tour guides often stand in front of the Vrankrijk, explaining the importance of the squatters movement in the 1980s and how the building represents its achievements in maintaining affordable housing and encouraging cultural innovation in the city. The mainstream media and the municipal politicians call it a squatters’ bulwark. For squatters, the building has an entirely divergent set of meanings. Having been legalized nearly twenty years earlier, the building is no longer a squat or in any

in The autonomous life?
Open Access (free)
Nazima Kadir

achieves through a lengthy process of practices, actions, and lifestyle performances that must then be evaluated by the squatters movement as authentic. Achieving the status of authentic squatter requires, first, the ability to demonstrate a complicated mix of functional skills and activist performances with a sense of naturalness and ease – which I term squatter capital. The second characteristic of authenticity is how a squatter defines themselves, in hostile opposition, to a series of imagined Others

in The autonomous life?
Open Access (free)
The economy of unromantic solidarity
Nazima Kadir

which people reside in spaces where they lack legal entitlement, hidden from the public eye, which I’m sure has continued especially as it receives little attention in the Netherlands. As for squatting as a movement, which is defined by public overtaking of properties, squatting has continued but in a different form. I never expected it to “die” because as long as the squatters movement has been visible and prominent in Amsterdam, the pronouncement that the movement is dead is as much a part of discourse about

in The autonomous life?
Nazima Kadir

people think they have more to say than other people. It’s just like actually like a normal society where everybody is dressed in black. Immediately after she lists her criticisms, Maria corrects herself to reaffirm her view of the squatters movement as full of politically convinced people who actively fight injustice: No, that’s not really true. I really like to be part of this, I think there are really good people who are active and who are really

in The autonomous life?
Nazima Kadir

paid by squatters to the sexual practices of those in positions of authority, as illustrated by the opening anecdote. Previously, I presented a matrix of skills and styles of identity-making performances necessary to enable a sense of inhabiting the ideal of the authentic squatter. Squatter capital, specific skills and the differential prestige that one gains by excelling in such skills, describes the unspoken value system of the internal social world of the squatters movement, what Bourdieu describes as understanding

in The autonomous life?