Peaceful squatters or troublemakers? The image of the squatter comes in as many varieties as their actions do, whether they occupy their living quarters as homeless or undocumented workers, start independent communes or artist "squats," or are simply adherents to an different lifestyle. Their movements are multiform, and their motivations numerous.
This work focuses on retracing the steps of the invention of the squat as a form of collective action, from the end of the 19th century to the present, throughout different countries. It brings to light two prominent typologies: the "classist" squat, whose proponents claim a right to shelter, and the "counter-cultural" squat, whose advocates claim a right to a space wherein they can achieve an alternative lifestyle.
Any way you look at it, the squat, as a method of collective action, is remarkable in that it constitutes, ipso facto, the answer to its very own demands.
Cécile Péchu holds a PhD in Political Sciences. She is a researcher at the Université de Lausanne (Switzerland). She co-directed the Dictionnaire des mouvements sociaux, published by Presses de Sciences Po (2009)