A migrant’s tale of two cities: mobile commons and the alteration of urban space in Athens and Hamburg

Martin Bak Jørgensen, Vasiliki Makrygianni

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


Greece has been in the epicentre of the debate on the recent socio-economic and refugee crises, however little attention has been paid to migrants’ survival practices and praxes of commoning within this turbulent condition. Germany has faced the refugee crisis on different socio-economic terms but has spurred a debate focusing only on how to deal with the exacerbated conditions. This chapter aims to enlighten migrants’ spaces that emerge from praxes of commoning and resistance in contemporary Greece and Germany.
The chapter presents mobile commons as a paradigm of migrants’ commoning practices concerning housing, sheltering and appropriating urban space, deriving from a field research conducted in Athens and Hamburg. The spatial analysis of such commoning practices brings to light dynamics and potentialities hidden in urban spaces, destabilises fixed categories and dichotomies, and reveals the emerging interactions with the urban environment and the local population. The chapter concludes that such practices do not constitute an exception in the production of urban space but are part of an ongoing commoning process, linked with several social political and economic crises taking different shapes in Greece and Germany respectively.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCommoning the City : Empirical Perspectives on Urban Ecology, Economics and Ethics
EditorsDerya Özkan, Güldem Baykal Büyüksaraç
Number of pages18
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Publication date13 Mar 2020
ISBN (Print)9780367076566
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-429-02188-6
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2020
SeriesSpace, Materiality and the Normative

Bibliographical note

This collection seeks to expand the limits of current debates about urban commoning practices that imply a radical will to establish collaborative and solidarity networks based on anti-capitalist principles of economics, ecology and ethics.

The chapters in this volume draw on case studies in a diversity of urban contexts, ranging from Detroit, USA to Kyrenia, Cyprus – on urban gardening and land stewardship, collaborative housing experiments, alternative food networks, claims to urban leisure space, migrants’ appropriation of urban space and workers’ cooperatives/collectives. The analysis pursued by the eleven chapters opens new fields of research in front of us: the entanglements of racial capitalism with enclosures and of black geographies with the commons, the critical history of settler colonialism and indigenous commons, law as a force of enclosure and as a strategy of commoning, housing commons from the urban scale perspective, solidarity economies as labour commons, territoriality in the urban commons, the non-territoriality of mobile commons, the new materialist and post-humanist critique of the commons debate and feminist ethics of care.


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