Book Review of Ours to Lose: When Squatters Became Homeowners in New York City by Amy Starecheski

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The book is an interesting study not only for Antipode readers and radical scholars in general, but also for people interested in understanding the policies at disposal in the capitalist development of cities (think about “benign neglect”, “planned shrinkage” and “urban renewal”). Composed of an introduction and five chapters plus a conclusion, it includes the oral histories that the author carried out with the Lower East Side’s squatters between 2009 and 2015. I know what some would say: another book on New York’s Lower East Side? Yes, it is true that throughout the years various books have been published (among others, see Abu-Lughod 1994; Mele 2000; Patterson 2007; Tobocman 1999), but this book is an original contribution that digs in to the details of events and goes beyond the Lower East Side, NYC, and the USA. The book contains a combination of voices narrating the experience of squatting in the Lower East Side. There are 36 leading actors–25 squatters in 11 buildings–and while the majority of the squatters come from the USA, there are also people from Australia, Canada, Colombia, Italy, and Portugal. The target of squatting in NYC has mainly been city-owned buildings and this makes a different case if comparedwith similar ones in Europe (see, for example, SqEK 2013; SqEK et al. 2014). The squatters intertwined their lives with the transformation of the squatted buildings and in doing so they have been creating personal and political spaces, not just giving a roof to otherwise homeless people

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Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography

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