Accepted paper:

Governing by dwelling: the case of City Plaza Refugees Accommodation Centre in Athens


Isabel Gutierrez Sanchez (University College London)

Paper short abstract:

“Governing by dwelling” seeks to provide a framework to explore a form of emancipatory politics emerging from grassroots spaces of social reproduction in Southern Europe. A politics that reflects a reality in which the “paradigm of dwelling” and the “paradigm of governing” mingle and clash.

Paper long abstract:

A "paradigm of dwelling" in the form of conceiving politics would be that of sensing, accompanying and fostering the potentialities emerging from the embodied experience of daily encounters. It would be a form of ordinary steering that does not follow pre-fixed rules or protocols, but rather assumes the contingency and specificity of the everyday to do politics from there. Hence, it embraces diversity, affections and interdependency. This is the fictional framework that the philosopher Fernández-Savater proposes as a lens to look at and imagine a new political culture, already latent in the contemporary Southern European context. The "paradigm of dwelling" stands in opposition to the long-established "paradigm of governing", by which politics follows abstract universal models of what-ought-to-be. I will use this dichotomous fiction to situate the political practice and imaginary produced in emerging grassroots spaces of social reproduction in cities of Southern Europe. I will draw on the case of City Plaza Refugees Accommodation Centre in Athens, as an instance representative of a growing network of citizen-led welfare infrastructures, addressing the survival needs of those marginalised in a current context of multi-faceted crisis. For this situated scenario, I propose the idea of "governing by dwelling" as a way to understand a form of doing politics that reflects a reality in which both the aforementioned paradigms mingle and clash. A politics intimately attached to space and the body. I will argue that these bottom-up solidarity initiatives are sites with a transformative potential of the social and urban enclosures created under austerity.

panel Urba05
The everyday makeshifts of life at the urban margins