The Sci-Files – 04/04/2021 – Sarah Jacobson – Squatting to Make Ends Meet: Immigrants and Housing Occupations

Chelsie Boodoo and Daniel Puentes

Sarah Jacobson headshot
Sarah Jacobson

On this week’s The Sci-Files, your hosts Chelsie and Danny interview Sarah Jacobson. Sarah examines housing occupations in Italy and West Germany in the 1970s. Although most researchers look at political activists who squatted, she instead looks at southern Italian migrants who occupied out of social need. She views migrants’ involvement in occupations as an embodied form of collective action, or how migrants used the right to a home as means to push back on both social and political exclusion. By comparing occupation movements in Turin (Italy) and Frankfurt (former West Germany), she shows how migrants can be marginalized even within their own nation-state and denied some of the benefits of the so-called modern welfare state. As a whole, Sarah borrows from a historian Kathleen Canning’s conception of “participatory citizenship” to show how migrant housing occupiers articulated their claims, engaged in contest, and made their own meanings of citizenship by pressuring municipal authorities to extend the purview of social services. This argument has many implications for current immigrants or refugees as it illuminates how groups and individuals can effectively be integrated into existing social security systems even prior to formalized citizenship. If you’re interested in talking about your MSU research on the radio or nominating a student, please email Chelsie and Danny at [email protected]. Check The Sci-Files out on TwitterFacebookInstagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube!