CFP: Critical Geographies of Occupation, Squatting, & Trespass

Call for Papers: RGS-IBG Annual Conference, London (Aug 27-30).

Critical Geographies of Occupation, Squatting, and Trespass

Samuel Burgum, Urban Studies and Planning, University of Sheffield
Alexander Vasudevan, School of Geography & the Environment, University of Oxford

Cities in the global North have recently witnessed an upsurge in squatting, trespass and other forms of occupation. Ordinary citizens and activists have fought against intense displacement and marginality, increasingly criminalisation and repression, by providing shelter and refuge, creating alternative infrastructures and socialities, and developing new modes of endurance, resistance and survival. This session seeks to examine this latest cycle of urban occupations by tracing the spaces and practices produced by such actions and how, taken together, they might be understood as offering a new platform for re-thinking and inhabiting the city.

The main aim of the session is to extend and re-centre recent attempts to develop a critical geography of ‘occupation’. The session is organised around three broad orientations:

1. A critical historical perspective that examines how cities have been transformed by residents into living archives of alternative knowledges, materials, and resources;

2. An empirical focus that re-traces the generative micro-politics of squatting and urban occupation. This is an optic that places particular emphasis on the different practices adopted by squatters – improvised, makeshift and often uncertain –and the challenges that they face in composing alternative urban infrastructures. 

3. A theoretical lens that highlights the emotional geographies of urban squatting. At stake here, is a recognition that squatted spaces are not only sources of intense conflict and struggle. They are equally sites of hope, liberation, and possibility. 

This session seeks papers which touch on one or more of these orientations in diverse contexts, with the aim of developing a special issue on critical geographies of occupation, squatting and trespass. We particularly welcome papers which seek to interrogate and build on existing concepts – including autonomy, commoning, endurance, informality, prefiguration, and the ‘right to the city’ – as well as research that recognises and challenges existing theoretical commitments. We are especially interested in developing a more hopeful and speculative geography of theory that moves beyond North/South binaries and recognises the alliances, practices and resources that connect activists and residents living in the global North and South. 

If you are interested in submitting a paper to this session, please send: a title, abstract of up to 150 words, and full contact details to the organizers (; ) by February 5, 2019.


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