Friday, February 24, 2006

bridges to the 21st century

Modernism doesn't age well. Here, on the southern lip of Rome, Laurentino 38 was sketched out in the 70s as a futuristic urban utopia. Today it's a highway to nowhere, and 11 pedestrian bridges have been taken over by squatters. Now the local administration in the Italian capital wants to knock three of the structures down. Where will the squatters go? No one knows. Wanted in Rome has some details.

Seems like there is some indigenous organizing going on. See: L38 squat, ponte d'incontro and diario, all in Italian. L38 also offers some cute photos of their dogs.


Anonymous said...


I'm a student at Columbia College Chicago and I'm currently doing a research paper about squatters.

I just finished your book, Shadow Cities, and I must thank you for shedding major light on the subject. There's just not much material least, not that I've found yet.

Anyway, a quick question. Do you have any suggestions as far as resources for learning about squatters?

Keep up the awesome blog! I think squatters are truly on to something and people need to listen up.


rn said...


Apart from checking daily papers in particular countries in which you are interested, here are some suggestions: is the website of Slum/Shack Dwellers International, a global ngo/organizing outfit is the site of the UN agency that studies/deals with urbanization and housing issues. UN-Habitat's annual Global Report on Human Settlements has key statistics on squatters in major cities around the world.

Planet of Slums, by Mike Davis, which has just been published, suggests that the recent enormous increase in squatter settlements is a direct outgrowth of structural adjustment programs imposed by the World Bank and other global entities.

If any reader out there has any other suggestions, please add them to the list.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much!

rn said...

Here are a few other possible reads:

Empowering Squatter Citizen, by David Satterthwaite & Diana Mitlin
Though I haven't yet read it, I've heard good things about this set of case studies of participatory methods to lift squatters out of desperation.

The Mystery of Capital, by Hernando de Soto, advances the popular but overly simplistic argument that giving squatters title deeds will liberate billions of dollars in dead capital.

Housing by People, by John F.C. Turner: "It is what housing does for people that matters more than what it is, or how it looks." A bit out of date (it was published in the 70s) but still the bible of squatter self-sufficiency.

Finally, these two novels that say more about what goes on in these communities than most academic works:

Texaco, by Patrick Chamoiseau, is a richly imagined squatter history of Fort de France, Martinique.

Berji Kristin: Tales from the Garbage Hills, by Latife Tekin, is a magical-realist take on the founding of a gecekondu community in Istanbul.