Category Archives: book

Interview – Squatting the Grey City

A short interview with E.T.C. Dee, the author of Squatting the Grey City

Why write a book about squatting in Rotterdam?

I have visited, lived and squatted in Rotterdam for a number of years. Right now I am squatting there and missing a bit the old squat scene, which I guess I caught the end of back in the 2000s. We had some cool places, like the Slaakhuis, the Fabriek in Delfshaven, Onrust, Boogjes, Groene Voltage, Quarantaineterrein, Wolfart and of course the Poortgebouw. Most of these places have now been evicted but a few still persist. And now you can read all about it in a book I have been writing for the last three years! It is a partial history of the squatting movement(s) in Rotterdam from the 1960s up to the present. It was never my intention to profile private residential squats and the scene here is so fractured and wild that I’m sure that I have also omitted your favourite project. That’s OK, we need lots of diverse histories and herstories, not one hegemonic version. I’ve enjoyed my time spent in various archives, chatting to (ex)squatters and chasing down half-remembered stories online. Hopefully you will enjoy the selection of stories I have retrieved. It’s not just about squatting, but the occupation of derelict space is an important thread running through the book. How sad it was that squatting was criminalised and how stupid it is that most people stopped. It’s still possible!

What does the book cover?

The book starts at the beginning of the modern movement and I talk about two very useful archives, namely the Delpher online mainstream media resource and krakenpost, a squatter mailing list which has been going since the 1990s. Then I talk about various housing projects which also had a public function, such as the Joodse Ziekenhuis and the Emmahuis, before moving onto quirky projects that came out of the squatscene, like Hotel New York (which would most likely have been demolished if it wasn’t squatted in the 1980s) and the successful No Border camp of 2013. Next I discuss the social centres phenomenon and how many music venues came out of the squat scene here (like Thelonius, Waterfront and Eksit), before zooming in on some specific projects. First I look at the Fietsenfabriek and its defeated attempt to become a broedplaats, then the Poortgebouw, which still stands defiant and somewhat autonomous in Kop van Zuid. I next reflect on the squatscene in the 2000s, before devoting individual chapters to the Snellinckstraat experience and the Groene Voltage social centre, two places where I lived. There are then two quick chapters on the kraakspreekuur and Rotterdam zines respectively, before a consideration of what it means to squat after criminalisation in 2010. Following this, I discuss the Dutch housing corporation scandal and then conclude that squatting is still possible, even if most people have kind of given up on the whole idea, unfortunately.

Where can we get the book?

You would be welcome to buy a book from me in person or online, you will be able to find the links soon. You will also find it to download for free at various spots … right now, the only online link is for the epub version.

What is your next project?

I really enjoyed writing this book and I hope people find it interesting. I feel that there is still much to be said and recorded from the squatters movement across the Netherlands and that we need to create our own narratives to kick off future actions. Now you can read a bit about what was going on in Rotterdam. Let’s hear from some other places too!

My next work will probably be a collection of interviews with Dutch squatters, to capture a bit of what is happening now in the scene. I aim to do around twenty interviews, so far I have done three and am putting the raw audio online at the archive.


Book – Squatting the Grey City

Finally a cobblebooks release!

Squatting the Grey City – E.T.C. DEE

Rotterdam has a rich and diverse history of squatting. As well as countless houses, many venues and other projects came from the movement. If you know where to look, the city is full of stories. This book will give you one version of this colourful past, from one squat researcher’s perspective. Read about everything from the Aktiekomittee Progastarbeiders to Zines, with loads of pictures and activist analysis in between. You are guaranteed to learn something new about this grey city and the squatters movement which even now bubbles away within it.

Forthcoming as website / pdf / printbook / epub (links will be added in due course)

Squatting in Europe: Radical Spaces, Urban Struggles


Squatting in Europe: Radical Spaces, Urban Struggles

Squatting in Europe aims to move beyond the conventional understandings of squatting, investigating its history in Europe over the past four decades. Historical comparisons and analysis blend together in these inquiries into squatting in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, France, Germany and England. In it members of SqEK (Squatting Europe Kollective) explore the diverse, radical, and often controversial nature of squatting as a form of militant research and self-managed knowledge production.


Hans Pruijt: Squatting in Europe
Pierpaolo Mudu: Resisting and challenging Neoliberalism: the development of Italian SocialCentres
Gianni Piazza: How activists make decisions within Social Centres? A comparative study in an Italian city
Miguel A. Martínez: The Squatters’ Movement in Spain: A Local and Global Cycle of Urban Protests
Claudio Cattaneo: Urban squatting, rural squatting and the ecological-economic perspective
Andre Holm, Armin Kuhn: Squatting and Urban Renewal: The Interaction of Squatter Movements and Strategies of Urban Restructuring in Berlin
Linus Owens: Have squat, will travel: How squatter mobility mobilizes squatting
Florence Boullon: What’s a ‘good’ squatter? Categorization’s processes of squats by government officials in France
Thomas Aguilera: Configurations of Squats in Paris and the Ile-de-France Region: diversity of goals and resources
E.T.C. Dee: Moving towards criminalisation and then what? Examining dominant discourses on squatting in England

Available from Minor Compositions, AK Press, AKUK, Active and all good radical bookshops.
Also available as a free PDF download from SqEK or here.

278 pages, 6×9
US: $24 / UK: £16
ISBN 978-1-57027-257-8
Available direct from Minor Compositions now for the special price of £10.
Release date Fall 2013

#lookingforwardto The City is Ours

The City Is Ours: Squatting and Autonomous Movements in Europe from the 1970s to the Present

RELEASE early 2014

Squatters and autonomous movements have been in the forefront of radical politics in Europe for nearly a half-century—from struggles against urban renewal and gentrification, to large-scale peace and environmental campaigns, to spearheading the antiausterity protests sweeping the continent.

Through the compilation of the local movement histories of eight different cities—including Amsterdam, Berlin, and other famous centers of autonomous insurgence along with underdocumented cities such as Poznan and Athens—The City Is Ours paints a broad and complex picture of Europe’s squatting and autonomous movements.
Continue reading →

#lookingforwardto Moral Rhetoric and the Criminalisation of Squatting

Moral Rhetoric and the Criminalisation of Squatting

Vulnerable Demons

Edited by Lorna Fox O’Mahony, David O’Mahony, Robin Hickey


#lookingforwardto Squatters’ Movement in Europe: Everyday Commons and Autonomy as Alternatives to Capitalism


The Squatters’ Movement in Europe: Everyday Commons and Autonomy as Alternatives to Capitalism

The Squatters’ Movement in Europe is the first definitive guide to squatting as an alternative to capitalism. It offers a unique insider’s view on the movement – its ideals, actions and ways of life. At a time of growing crisis in Europe with high unemployment, dwindling social housing and declining living standards, squatting has become an increasingly popular option. The book is written by an activist-scholar collective, whose members have direct experience of squatting: many are still squatters today. There are contributions from the Netherlands, Spain, the USA, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and the UK. In an age of austerity and precarity this book shows what has been achieved by this resilient social movement, which holds lessons for policy-makers, activists and academics alike.