UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Comparative Approaches to Informal Housing around the Globe

22 June 2017–23 June 2017, 12:30 pm–6:00 pm


Event Information


IAS Common Ground (Room G11 South Wing)

Research on illegal housing is still fragmented. Several factors impede a more systematic approach to the topic. The variety of notions used for housing strategies that do not (entirely) comply with the law, such as squatting, illegal housing, informal housing, unauthorised housing, unlicensed housing, self-help housing, to name just a few, is indicative of a fundamental heterogeneity.


Different dimensions, actors, motivations, different social and political contexts make it a challenge to study illegal housing as a global phenomenon. When do comparisons have promise, when are they rather pointless? A number of pioneering studies have already demonstrated that comparisons can open 'new niches to investigate what previously never met our eyes' (Aguilera/Smart). Along these lines, this event will be testing the capability of comparative approaches to open new perspectives. We have invited academics who are interested in challenging the limitations of 'their' region, who are open for confrontations with the ‘other’ and content to let themselves in for comparisons. Scholars from different parts of the world will present and discuss new comparative research on various forms of illegal housing in Africa, Asia, Middle East, Latin America, North America and Europe.

Thursday, 22 June 2017
Registration and Tea
12.30 Welcome - Udo Grashoff
13.00 Keynote Lecture - Alan Gilbert

Panel 1 - Chair: Ann Varley

Theresa Williamson, Could Rio's favelas offer the key to a sustainable future?

Eliza Isabaeva, Desiring the State? Squatters in Bishkek and their attitude towards the State in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan

Tea Break

Panel 2 - Chair: Thomas Aguilera

Manuel Lutz, Informality fixes in the post-welfare state: Interrogating state managed persistence of informal housing from homeless tent city to tiny houses in the US

Baptiste Colin, Beyond Poverty : Social Exclusion and Squatting in Paris and Berlin (West) in the Early 1980s

Tea Break (IAS, room 20)

Panel 3 (IAS, room 20)

Diego de Santiago Delfín, Chanti Ollin: network of alternative practices through Mexico City and the world

Friday, 23 June 2017

Panel 4 - Chair: Alexander Vasudevan

Miguel A. Martínez López, Against All Private Property? On the Various Forms of Political Squatting

Bart van der Steen, Who are the squatters? Questioning mediatized stereotypes of the squatter movement, 1970-1990. Presenting a Research project on squatting in Leiden, the Netherlands

Udo Grashoff, Ways of Depoliticisation

Tea Break

Panel 5 - Chair: Eliza Isabaeva

Thomas Aguilera and Alan Smart, Explaining the Persistence of Squatting in the Urban World. A Comparative Political Economy of Strategic Toleration of Illegality in Paris and Hong Kong

Rachelle Alterman and Inês Calor, Non-Compliance with planning laws in OECD Countries: The case of Portugal and Israel

Lunch Break (UCL SSEES)

Panel 6 - Chair: Miguel A. Martínez López

Jakob Warnecke, The Phenomenon of Right-wing Squatting in Europe

Olumuyiwa Adegun, Informal Urban Housing in Europe and Africa, yesterday and today

Tea Break

Final discussion

Chair: Udo Grashoff

Friday, 23 June 2017

A SSEES FRINGE Center conference, convened by Dr Udo Grashoff.

Tickets are available through UCL Ticketing.

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