Hot on the heels of this weeks release of ‘Architecture and Space Re-imagined’, today sees the publication of ‘Forgotten Plotlanders’ in the Housing, Theory and Society journal.
This paper marks the first journal publication relating to my post-doctoral research into informal space and housing in the UK. Whilst it builds upon themes of alterneity and informal space theory drawn from ‘Architecture and Space Re-imagined’ it reflects the first translation of these ideas into a UK context.
This trajectory of research supports and frames an upcoming AHRC funding application for ECR’s. Titled ‘Subsistent Places; Productive Lives’, this project will analyse the history of other plotlander sites in order to document the formalisation of space in the UK. This line of inquiry will support a critique of the UK model of speculative neoliberal mass-housing with the ultimate intention of proposing an alternative model of non-speculative development and positive anarchistic informality in UK space.
Once again, if anyone wishes to discuss the ideas raised in the book then please get in touch.
Colin Ward’s discourses on the Arcadian landscape of “plotlander” housing are unique documentations of the anarchistic birth, life, and death of the last informal housing communities in the UK. Today, the forgotten history of plotlander housing documented by Ward can be re-read in the context of both the apparently never-ending “housing crisis” in the UK and the increasing awareness of the potential value of learning from comparable informal housing from the Global South. This paper’s observations of a previously unknown and forgotten plotlander site offer a chance to begin a new conversation regarding the positive potential of informal and alternative housing models in the UK and wider Westernized world.
The following is the much revised abstract for the research paper I have been preparing for upcoming publication. Hopefully this paper will be completed within May, allowing me to progress on to other emerging research projects and papers.
The Emancipatory Politics of Informal, Spontaneous, and (maybe) Autogestive Space;
Critical intersections in the anarchist housing practices of John Turner and the socio-spatial Marxism of Henri Lefebvre
Abstract (150 words):
This paper critically re-frames anarchist development practices designed to support and facilitate informal settlements in the Global South as a potentially emancipatory alternative to the economically and politically co-opted architectural processes that produce Westernised space. In order to ground this discussion, the work of participatory development practitioner John Turner in 1960s Peru is posed as a practical realisation of the political potential of autogestive space advocated in Henri Lefebvre’s post-Marxist discourse. This analysis of the grass-roots political action of participatory development in the Global South reveals a critical intersection of autogestion and informal space, and subsequently a re-contextualisation of the socio-spatial contrasts of anarchist and Marxist theories. Highlighting this intersection of Turner’s anarchist self-build housing practices and Lefebvre’s spatial appropriation of Marxist autogestion also frames wider questions of Western assumptions of social and political interpretations of value, autonomy, choice, participation, and social sustainability. Thus, Lefebvre’s much cited post-Marxist proposition of the social production of social space is here critically re-framed against Turner’s seminal anarchist questioning of ‘Who Decides and Who Provides?’
Autogestion, informal space, self-build, participatory, anarchist, Marxist.