PD Smith

The Autonomous City

16 March 2017 | cities, Guardian, Reviewing, Writing & Poetry | Post a comment

I've just reviewed a fascinating new history of squatting - The Autonomous City by Alexander Vasudevan.

Here's a paragraph from my piece:

'Vasudevan sees his book not merely as a dry contribution to urban history, but as celebration of the vital ideas and achievements of those squatters who dared to imagine an alternative vision of life, an alternative to the neoliberal city and the urbanisation that is still engulfing the world. His highly original argument is that the history of squatting reveals “the potential reorganisation of our cities along more collective, socially just and ecologically sustainable lines”. Using archives created by squatters themselves, documenting their evanescent experiments, Vasudevan demonstrates that “the squat was a place of collective world-making: a place to express anger and solidarity, to explore new identities and different intimacies, to experience and share new feelings, and to defy authority and live autonomously”.'

Vasudevan's book is essential reading for anyone interested in the recent history of cities or indeed how we can improve them in the future. Read my review on the Guardian's website.

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