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SQUAT, or the Radical Community Builders of Reunified Berlin

“An Astonishing Moment in History”: Why Germany & Why Now

Season 1, Ep. 1

In this first episode of SQUAT, Maya introduces herself and the supporting cast of squatters she interviewed. She shares the reasons why a college student from South Carolina grew so fascinated with the fall of the Berlin Wall, and in doing so, illustrates some unexpected parallels between 1989 and 2020. Finally, she sets the scene for the rest of the series by explaining how Berlin came to have so much empty property for squatters to occupy.


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  • 5. Small People, Small Things: Punk, Alter-Globalization, & What Comes Next

    Berlin was far from the only city in the late 20th century dealing with drastic economic change. In the series finale of SQUAT, Maya crosses an ocean and a continent to explore how people utilized empty space to resist neoliberalism in a city quite close to home: San Francisco. Beyond rising housing prices, what connected Berlin and the Bay Area, you might ask? Surprisingly, punk music! In this episode, Maya examines the way countercultural exchange fostered transnational connections in this moment of immense global transition. Citations:"Bolt Cutters and the Politics of Expropriation: Homes Not Jails, Urban Squatting, and Gentrification" in Cooking up a Revolution: Food Not Bombs, Homes Not Jails, and Resistance to Gentrification by Sean Parson (2018)“Transnational Justice, Counterpublic Spheres, and Alter-Globalization.” by Nikita Dhawan (article in Localities, 2012)“Anti-Globalization or Alter-Globalization? Mapping the Political Ideology of the Global Justice Movement” by Manfred Steger & Erin K. Wilson (article in International Studies Quarterly, 2012)
  • 4. “We Are Here, Baby”: DIY Renovations & the Right to the City

    After several decades of neglect, many buildings in Berlin needed a lot of work to be made livable — but where others saw blight, squatters saw possibility. In this episode, Maya explores the spatial practices of squatting and how squatters used imaginative DIY renovations to claim a right to the city. However, that right was frequently challenged by non-squatters and the state, in violent ways… this episode also covers the forced eviction that some consider the end of the squatters’ movement, what even short-lived squatting meant for the people who participated, and the future of communal housing in Germany.Citations:Writings on Cities by Henri Lefebvre (1996)"Excavating Lefebvre: The Right to the City and Its Urban Politics of the Inhabitant" by Mark Purcell (article in GeoJournal, 2002)“The Right to the City” by David Harvey (2008)“Precolonial Indigenous Education in the Western Hemisphere and Pacific” by Adrea Lawrence (article in The [Oxford] Handbook on the History of Education, 2019)"Infoshops in the Shadow of the State" by Chris Atton in Contesting Media Power: Alternative Media in a Networked World (2002)“Mehr als eine Heimwerker-Idylle” [More Than a DIY Paradise]. Retrieved from Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg Museum Archives, 10 May 2023."Living in Common Places: The Communal Apartment" from Common Places: Mythologies of Everyday Life in Russia by Svetlana Boym (1994)Metropolitan Preoccupations: The Spatial Politics of Squatting in Berlin by Alexander Vasudevan (2015) “Underground Heritage: Berlin Techno and the Changing City” by John Schofield and Luise Rellensmann (article in Heritage & Society, 2015)
  • 3. “A Collective Dream”: Community, Countersocieties, & Counterpublics

    What exactly was so radical about these squatters’ “radical communities”? In this episode, Maya offers a few frameworks to analyze the way life in Berlin’s squats diverged from the mainstream, in particular looking at the ways squatters thought about queer identity, anti-capitalist ideology, age, and art. She also examines the stories of the Black people that appeared in the margins of this historical narrative.Citations:Mobilizing Black Germany: Afro-German Women and the Making of a Transnational Movement by Tiffany Florvil (2020)Assorted images, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg Museum Archives “The Public Sphere: an Encyclopedia Article” by Jürgen Habermas, Sara Lennox and Frank Lennox (article in New German Critique, 1974)“Tuntenhaus Forellenhof 1990: Gay Communism’s Short Summer” curated by Bastian Krondorfer, Schwules Museum (“Toward a Generic Concept of Counter-culture” by Keith A. Roberts (article in Sociological Focus, 1978)Metropolitan Preoccupations: The Spatial Politics of Squatting in Berlin by Alexander Vasudevan (2015)Publics and Counterpublics by Michael Warner (2002)
  • 2. “There Are Other Ways”: Reunification & Radical Imagination as Resistance

    In this episode, we dive deeper into the fall of the Berlin Wall, examining how a moment of such geopolitical significance was felt at the neighborhood level. Through interviews, Maya explores the frustration and anger that German reunification inspired and how squatting emerged as a tactic to both resist the status quo and imagine new ways of living. Citations:Fire and Flames: A History of the German Autonomist Movement by Geronimo (2012)Metropolitan Preoccupations: The Spatial Politics of Squatting in Berlin by Alexander Vasudevan (2015)"East and West Squatters in Berlin: Experiences Before and After the Collapse of the Wall" by Hermine De Soto (report for National Council for Soviet and East European Research, 1992)"Urban Renewal and the End of Social Housing: The Roll Out of Neoliberalism in East Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg" by Andrej Holm (article in Social Justice, 2006)"Squatting and Urban Renewal: The Interaction of Squatter Movements and Strategies of Urban Restructuring in Berlin" by Andrej Holm & Armin Kuhn (article in International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 2010)“The Transition from People’s Property to Private Property: Consequences of the Restitution Principle for Urban Development and Urban Renewal in East Berlin’s Inner-City Residential Areas" by Bettina Reimann (article in Applied Geography, 1997)Globalization and Germany, Spring 2023 (Stanford in Berlin class taught by Wolf-Fabian Hungerland)Access episode transcripts and more SQUAT content at!
  • Series Trailer

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