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2015 Spring Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Community... has ended
Wednesday, April 22 • 10:25am - 10:45am
Hausbesetzung: The Squatters’ Movement in Germany

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To squat means to illegally occupy a building or piece of land. The motivations behind squatting range from political protest to poverty and unaffordable rent. The German word for squatting is “Hausbesetzung”, which literally means “house occupying”. In my research, I examine the history of the squatters’ movement in Germany with a focus in Berlin. The movement gained popularity in the late 1970s and 1980s and exploded after the fall of the Berlin Wall. This was caused partially because of the large amount of abandoned homes in the East of people who fled to the West, but also because the uncertain legal situation allowed others to easily occupy those abandoned homes and eventually gain legal rights to them. Squatting in Germany is mainstream enough to have its own vocabulary, such as “Wagenplatz”, a type of squat where people build or convert vehicles into livable spaces and congregate in an otherwise unused space. Squatting is an everyday phenomenon, and even has a place in pop culture. Many squats have gained legal status, and many are also community and art spaces. The purpose of my research is to raise awareness of this movement to an American audience, since it is largely unheard of in the United States due to the language barrier. I also would like to raise the question of why squatting is so unheard of in the United States in the first place.

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Wednesday April 22, 2015 10:25am - 10:45am
406 Wilma Sherrill Center