Squatting and the undocumented migrants struggle in the Netherlands

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


All over ‘Fortress Europe' groups of refugees and undocumented migrants are organizing themselves to resist and protest against the current migration regime and border system. This paper will be argued that while the migration regime aims to push undocumented migrants into invisibility, to silence their voices, to tame their bodies and to let them live in a constant state of fear, this does not deprive migrants of their capacity to rebel and to struggle.For years, sewing the lips, hunger strikes, setting fire to one's body have expressed acts of protest occurring daily both in foreign detention centres and on the streets of Europe. Recently a new mode of protest started emerging in many Western European countries, including the Netherlands, Germany and Italy, namely collectively squatting unused buildings. This marks an important shift in the undocumented migrants' modes of struggle that goes from isolated acts of protest to a collective mode of resistance that affects the everyday lives of undocumented migrants. Drawing on the case of the ‘We Are Here' movement in the Netherlands, this chapter argues that squatting buildings has been used by undocumented migrants for shelter, protest and to gain visibility, but also to open collective autonomous spaces where to organize political struggles, to intervene in the way migrants are supposed to experience their everyday lives, and to take their basic need in their own hands: thereby resisting mechanisms of both ‘crimmigration' by the state, and victimisation by civil society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMigration, Squatting and Radical Autonomy
EditorsP. Mudu, S. Chattopadhyay
Place of PublicationUK
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9781138942127
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2016

Publication series

NameRoutledge Research in Place, Space and Politics

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in Migration, Squatting and Radical Autonomy on 07/07/2016, available online: https://www.routledge.com/Migration-Squatting-and-Radical-Autonomy/Mudu-Chattopadhyay/p/book/9781138942127


  • Social Movements, Borders, Migration, Squatting, Criminalisation, Protest, The Netherlands, Autonomy, Solidarity


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