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Wandering through spaces of participation


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Wandering through spaces of participation

Testing psychogeography – based practices on the heritage of the squatters’ movement in Amsterdam

Matthaios Velogiannis 133308556 Thesis MA Heritage and Memory Studies Universiteit van Amsterdam Supervisor: Colin Sterling Second Reader: Hanneke Ronnes Words: 31172 28 February 2022




First of all, I would like to thank my participants, Huib, Hessel, Pieter and Maik, for their interest in my progress, the willingness to spend their morning with me and most importantly the amazing stories they told me. The participatory process was the most joyful part of my research.

I would like to thank my professor Colin Stirling for the valuable feedback and push towards an exploratory method.

Anna, but also Dan, Karim and Dr Dos Elshout were the people through which I found my participants. I thank them a lot. My participants, especially Huib and Hessel, also cared to provide me with more participants, and I owe them a second thanks for that reason.

I thank especially professor Dos Elshout for the time he provided me to talk about the squatter’s movement and the insight he gave me.

Anna peer-reviewed my work and I thank her for that.

I owe a big, special thanks to Gogo and Joni without the critical advice of whom I wouldn’t have done this research (together with the whole Master’s it is part of).

And a lot of gratitude to my family here – Ari, Ele, Fede, Robin. They gave important feedback on the final phase. But more than that, they provided support at every stage.




Acknowledgements ... 2

Abstract ... 5

Introduction ... 6

Uncovering the methodological potential of psychogeography ... 9

The question of space ... 9

Emotions and psychogeography ... 10

Why the squatters... 13

The method and its limitations ... 15

Mapping, walking, feeling: a review of the methodological traditions ... 17

The alternate, emotion-revealing cartographical modes ... 17

Walking and talking as a method ... 20

Psychogeography ... 21

Genealogy ... 21

Critique ... 26

Contemporary academic psychogeographical inquiries ... 27

Space, heritage and social movements ... 30

De stad was van ons: Squatters in Amsterdam ... 34

General International Frame ... 34

The movement in Amsterdam ... 36

Places and Parts ... 37

Periods ... 39

Talking, walking, mapping, understanding: the participatory research ... 43

The method ... 43

The field encounters ... 46

Huib ... 46

Hessel ... 47

Pieter ... 49

Maik ... 50

Some methodological problematisations ... 52

Identity and number of the participants ... 52

Are the wanderings dérives? ... 53

Are the maps psychogeographic? ... 54



My positionality and influence ... 55

Fragments of heritage: Analysis of the findings ... 58

Borders of heritage ... 58

The impact of the movement ... 58

Think of us as entrepreneurs ... 62

A village in the city... 63

Anarchy in action - Do it yourself ... 65

Of big battles ... 66

An insufficient map and three very different ones ... 69

Unexpected meetings ... 78

Three signs outside Silo, Amsterdam ... 82

The condenser ... 83

Unities of Ambience ... 85

What spatial heritage was revealed... 88

Conclusions ... 90

References ... 93




My thesis explores the potential of participatory practices inspired by psychogeography for the research of spatial heritage. I focus on two specific research practices, namely walking with participants and letting them make their own map. These practices correspond to the interconnected psychogeographic tools of dérive and psychogeographic mapping. I see them as promising methods to unfold the emotional and personal aspects of spatial heritage. Moreover, such tools can help to develop a perception of space – and in consequence spatial heritage – that is not limited to geometry and form, but understands space as relational, experiential and subjective. In order to test the methodology, I use a case study, which is the squatters' movement in Amsterdam. Walking and mapping with participants prove to be useful in exposing the density of heritage in the urban fabric and the complexity of the specific squatting heritage. The methodology however cannot address on its own the issue of delineating the spatial heritage of the movement. Future research can experiment further with larger samples and multiple methods to refine the tools that were used in this research. These tools can then be combined with other methodologies and used in thorough inquiries into spatial heritage, especially in cases of unofficial heritage related to social movements, minorities, countercultures and others.

Keywords: psychogeography, dérive, maps, spatial heritage, kraakbeweging, squatters




This inquiry aims to explore a family of practices that I consider promising for heritage research.

This family of practices lies within the broader area of participatory methodologies. The particular family I am interested in focuses on the concept of psychogeography. The latter is used as no more than a base. I will not attempt to determine what the psychogeographic methodology in heritage would mean. What I will focus on is unlocking the potential of two specific participatory research practices, namely walking with participants and letting them make their own map. These practices correspond to the interconnected psychogeographic tools of dérive and psychogeographic mapping.

The study examines these methods in relation to what Harrison calls “unofficial heritage”. This category includes the practices “that are represented using the language of heritage but are not recognised by official forms of legislation” (Harrison, 2013). Such can be the heritage of minority groups, the working class, social movements and subcultures. There are also practices or objects that may be relevant for broad parts of society but are not recognized as heritage. In contrast, official heritage is by one means or another recognised and motivated in official documents and laws (Harrison, 2013). Harrison’s distinction between official and unofficial heritage is by no means evaluative, nor does it refer to intrinsic qualities of the objects. It is proposed as a distinction to highlight that most of the issues surrounding heritage, from policy-making to academia, have to do with the recognition or not of unofficial heritage (Harrison, 2013).

These cases of heritage usually are the ones excluded from what Laurajane Smith calls Authorised Heritage Discourse(AHD) (L. Smith, 2006). In many of the cases that Smith considers to fall outside of AHD, heritage lies largely in the oral realm and lacks the very prominent material elements that a national heritage would usually exhibit (monuments, architecture etc.). The intangible nature of non-authorized heritage, together with its usual exclusion from master narratives, renders it a heritage unmapped and underrepresented (L. Smith, 2006). One could easily assume that these types of heritage do not have a specific bond with place and space. This however is far from the truth. The example of Aboriginal heritage in Australia, rightfully influential in heritage studies, can



serve as proof (Byrne & Nugent, 2004; L. Smith, 2006). In general, it is not helpful to consider intangible heritage as something completely separated from the material world. The practices that we consider as intangible heritage are embedded in the relationships of their practitioners with objects and places (Harrison, 2013). In this research, I will use the psychogeographic toolbox mentioned above to bring to the surface exactly this anchoring of an unofficial heritage in space.

I will develop my methodology in the case study of Amsterdam’s squatters’ movement. To be sure, the movement is not a thing of the past; Amsterdam still houses various squats and even more aspiring squatters. In the very autumn that this research started, the movement had become again relevant, in the midst of a housing crisis. I mention this because it would be mistaken to consider the movement solely as a historical reality that has left nothing but a heritage to be researched (see also Owens, 2009, 267-270). I find it interesting that I apply participatory methods in a case study which was by itself based on participation, in a heritage created by the participation of people in a social movement.

The squatters’ movement in Amsterdam - and the Netherlands in general - has an important historical depth (starting from the 60s and with roots back to the interbellum) (Duivenvoorden, 2012[2000]), as well as a significant impact in Dutch society. Its size was once quite impressive: in 1981, Amsterdam housed more than 206 squatted buildings, while in a period of thirty years from the sixties to the nineties 45.000 to 70,000 people had been involved in squatting in the city (Duivenvoorden, 2012 [2000]; van der Steen et al., 2014). The movement occasionally resulted in violent confrontations with police, like the famous coronation riots in 1980 or the Vondelstraat riots (Duivenvoorden, 2012 [2000]). Squatting by itself is in most places of the world an act opposing the law of the state; however, that was not exactly the case in the Netherlands until 2010 (Gemert et al., 2012). While the act of breaking into an empty building to squat was illegal, staying in it was not (Owens, 2009). This legal advantage meant that the movement, in sharp contrast with squatting movements in other regions of the world (van der Steen et al., 2014), could be an option for the masses (Duivenvoorden, 2012 [2000]). After the eighties, the legal situation around squatting changed negatively for the squatters (Kadir, 2014). More and more buildings faced evictions (Squatting Europe Kollective, n.d.). This procedure reduced significantly the material imprint of the movement in the city.



I believe that the methodological tools which are tested in this study can enrich critical inquiries into spatial heritage. After the departure from a normative relationship between space and heritage (which is best exemplified by the early idea of UNESCO about World Heritage sites) there is a need to reapproach this relationship with new tools and a different perspective. I hold that psychogeography can play an important role in this mission, uncovering personal, emotional and interpersonal aspects of space. My current research attempts a first step in the application of psychogeographic tools into spatial heritage. By doing so, it provides insights in what are the potential benefits and drawbacks. Future research can use these insights to further refine the psychogeographical toolbox.

The ambition of this thesis is not to use the methodology to shed light on a phenomenon. Instead, I want to use a case study (the squatters’ movement in Amsterdam) to test the potential of the methodology (psychogeographic mapping and the derive). This is why the methodology is at the same time the central object of the thesis. Thus, the literature review of the thesis will address the past of the methodology, and not the previous work done in the heritage of squatting or social movements.

Initially, I will present the general methodology, giving some reasons for my choices. In the following section, there will be the literature review. I will discuss separately the literature on participatory mapping, on walking and talking, and on psychogeography. Afterwards, I will develop a theoretical framework. This will have to do with what can be considered spatial heritage.

This question leads to a more general contemplation about space. Consequently, I will share some background information for the case study. I will briefly situate it in its international context and dissect it into periods and parts. After having put all this base information on the table, I will proceed with my research. I will first describe the method I followed, introduce the participants, and discuss some problematisations. After that, I will move to the analysis, which will be deployed thematically and not by each participant. Finally, I will attempt some provisional conclusions.



Uncovering the methodological potential of psychogeography

The question of space

In this chapter I will present my general methodology. First, I will demonstrate the usefulness of psychogeographic methodology to address certain aspects of spatial heritage. For this reason, I will briefly discuss how one can approach emotion in heritage research and why psychogeography is useful for that. Consequently, I will provide some reasons for the choice of the particular case study. Finally, I will introduce my specific method and refer to some of its fundamental limitations.

This will be done briefly; a more thorough presentation of the method and its limitations will follow in a later stage.

In the last decades, critical heritage has shifted the focus away from material heritage, based on built space, to intangible forms (Hafstein, 2018; Harrison, 2013; L. Smith, 2006). However, space is a persistent question in the sciences that study society. Contemporary human geography and anthropology search for a deeper sense of space, in opposition to positivist understanding (Tilley, 1994).

Maps, the most traditional positivist tool of monitoring and documenting space, seem to have an awkward position in this complex question. Over the past decades, the critical disciplines of space, like cultural geography, have been reluctant to engage with the idea of maps, citing their totalizing and falsely objective nature (Hadjimichalis, 2016; Nardi, 2014). However, as Nardi (2014) notes, by doing so they have limited themselves to a game of words, leaving the crucial issue of visualisation to others. I will argue that despite the authoritative connotations of cartography (Wood, 1993), maps still have an important part to play in studies that wish to be critical, inclusive, or even emancipatory.

Here enters psychogeography. This somewhat enigmatic technique and theory introduced by the situationists can provide a dimension of space that is not authoritative, not positivist, not objective, but still meaningful (Sadler, 1998). We can re-enter space through its lens. And in the field of heritage, which is distinct from the objective imperatives of history (Lowenthal, 1998) it



could be highly useful. Via psychogeography – or, to be more accurate, techniques driving from psychogeographic routes – I will try to approach heritage as something anchored in space. Yet this anchoring is not universal or objective. Psychogeography can unlock how heritage is anchored in space by means of experiential, personal and emotional narratives; and vice versa how space is ingrained with heritage by the same means.

Emotions and psychogeography

The emotional understanding of space, which finds theoretical grounding in the developments in spatial theory (Tilley, 1994), can be facilitated through the practice of psychogeography. As we will later discuss, there is no definite practice of psychogeography, so it is better to consider it an open concept (Bal, 2002) signifying a practice. Psychogeography drifts through different meanings as it is re-used by individuals and collectivities with different positionalities. What seems to remain in common is a care for the emotional effects of space.

Smith and Campbell ( 2015) talk about the “elephant in the room” of heritage studies, which is the role of affect and emotion. For them, these elements are highly constitutive of the creation of heritage. This realization does not emerge in a void. The recent years have seen a growth of research into affect and emotion (Clough & Halley, 2007). In the light of these developments, the previous reluctant attitude of heritage studies towards affect - which originated from a partly valid suspicion regarding the reactionary and commodifying uses of emotion (L. Smith & Campbell, 2015, 2017) - has to be revised.

It is out of the capacity of this research to dive into theory concerning the terms affect and emotion. Their use here reflects their use in some relevant works within the heritage field (Hoare, 2020; L. Smith & Campbell, 2015) Emotion and affect are important for this research because there are aspects of spatial heritage that are directly linked to them. These aspects of space go beyond geometry and morphology. In other words, these aspects of space constitute a big part of the intangible spatial heritage, which is in the centre of our interest. Affect and emotion become even more central in cases of unofficial heritage, which is usually not directly connected with



grand narratives that refer to large groups of people, like nations. In unofficial heritage, the feelings of individuals come to the fore and colour spaces with meaning.

A potential step for the understanding of the role of affect and emotion in heritage would be to evaluate visitors’ emotional response to heritage sites. However, this is not an enterprise without risks. Various factors complicate the evaluation of emotions. We should be careful to take these factors into consideration before proceeding to theorise our observations.

Affects are not solely produced from the heritage site itself. The emotions of a visitor in a heritage site are products of a number of interacting factors, including the place, the social and cultural context and the agency of the individuals themselves (L. Smith & Campbell, 2015). Narratives exterior to the experience on the heritage site can influence the emotional response. A common example can be representations in mass media and pop culture; a film or a book that has to do with the specific heritage can affect the way an individual confronts a site (Hoare, 2020). Other powerful narratives that influence the production of emotions in a heritage site are the various historical accounts and the “common sense” produced around a subject (Hoare, 2020).

Language is also a constant limitation when a researcher attempts to assess emotional responses.

The simplest example is the case where the researcher’s mother tongue is different from the one of the participant. This is the case in my own research. Even within the same language, each individual can understand in their own way words that express emotions (Hoare, 2020).

Furthermore, it is naïve to reproduce the idea that emotions happen ‘spontaneously’. On the contrary, the emotional response of an individual to a heritage site is formed through their own desire and negotiation with the response (L. Smith & Campbell, 2015). The willingness to express or admit emotions, or the lack of it, can be crucial. Similarly important is the wider mood of the individual and their stance towards the researcher. In addition, emotions are both social and embodied. The emotional process is entangled with body reactions like sweating or a quick heartbeat, as well as a cultural common ground, identities and group dynamics. (Barrett, 2017; L.

Smith & Campbell, 2015).

The discussion above however is limited to official heritage, which typically involves visitors coming to the site knowing that they are about to encounter heritage. When it comes to unofficial heritage this is not always the case. Many of the visitors (I use this term here with the general



notion of one who comes into an encounter with the heritage object) may have never thought of the object they encounter as heritage. Heritage, after all, is a discursive concept (L. Smith, 2006) that came into public discourse not so long ago. For many people, it is not at all so obvious as it is in the microcosmos of heritage studies.

This issue has practical implications for my research. In my participatory process, I avoided asking the participants directly the question “which places or buildings do you consider the heritage of the movement?”. For me, this would mean preoccupying the participant with a specific mode of answering, forcing them to pass through the unknown concept of heritage. It could possibly make them think in terms of authorized heritage, as many people limit the definition of heritage, implicitly following the authorized heritage discourse (L. Smith, 2006). For this reason, I went to ask questions about places that people felt “most connected with”, that were “important for them and their personal story in the movement”, that they “loved”, that were linked with important

“memories” from the movement and so on. Using emotional and generic terms, I tried to extract answers, from which I would later collect what can be considered the “heritage” of the movement.

Emotion, however, was not there just as a tactical move to conceal heritage.

Psychogeography, according to Sadler (1998), understands space poetically rather than analytically. It looks at meanings and moods associated with space. In this quality of psychogeography, I envision a large opportunity for heritage research regarding space. Breaking the bonds with the AHD, means, to me, going also beyond etic and distanced narratives concerning spatial heritage. These narratives are not only found in cases of official, monumental heritage. On the contrary, such narratives can be also created in the case of unofficial heritage.

The initial focus of psychogeography, as set by the situationists, was in the meanings and moods as understood by the collective mind (Sadler, 1998). However, later criticism faulted the situationists for holding a totalizing view of that collective mind (Bridger, 2013; Sadler, 1998), which did not take into account individual differences, nor the different positionalities in terms of class, gender, race and other identities. As the revolutionary aspect of the practice faded together with the emancipatory wave of 1968, the focus of psychogeography moved more in the personal (See Mudie, 2016; Pyyry, 2019; P. Smith, 2010). I am interested in both the collective and the



personal aspects of psychogeography. I will however try to be careful not to reduce the collective aspect to generalisations.

Applying psychogeography to research is easy to say, but, as we will see later, it is not at all concrete how this should be done. The existing literature contains attempts very different to each other, with none of them being a perfect fit for heritage issues. Therefore, my methodology is rather exploratory. After all, psychogeography itself requires an openness to changing one’s route.

I will use the tools of mapping and wandering through the city. Both of them are existent in psychogeography as psychogeographic maps and dérive. However, I will not limit my scope in the psychogeographical conceptualisations of these practices. I will draw from the more general methodologies of participatory mapping and “walking and talking” that exist regardless of psychogeography (Byrne, 2008; Byrne & Nugent, 2004; Clark & Emmel, 2010; McGrath et al., 2020;

O’Neill & Roberts, 2019).

Why the squatters

To grasp the potential of the psychogeographic techniques for spatial heritage, I use a specific case study. The case is based in the city I now live in, Amsterdam. Psychogeography is not the kind of research that can be carried out remotely without losing basic elements. The heritage that was picked, that of the squatters’ movement (Dutch: kraakbeweging), is an interesting example of unofficial heritage. Furthermore, the movement’s alternative vision for space, its importance for the city of Amsterdam despite its current decline, and its ideological and chronological alignment with the emergence of psychogeography make it a very suitable case study.

Psychogeographic and participatory tools may have an important role to play in unboxing cases where the heritage discourse is not hegemonic and part of an official state narrative or master narrative. In her critique of Authorized Heritage Discourse, Smith (2006) shows that some types of heritage that fall out of this discourse are better unfolded using oral and experiential methods, as happens with Aboriginal heritage.



There is a specificity to the squatter movement’s heritage in Amsterdam that is very interesting to me. While the spatial imprint of the movement was massive at its zenith, now it is hardly visible.

This happens despite the fact that the built spaces that the movement filled are mostly still present.

During the 70s and 80s, an impressive number of buildings were squatted in the area from the 19th-century ring inwards. In neighbourhoods like Nieuwmarkt, a part of Singel close to Dam square, and Staatsliedenbuurt, squats were a very common sight (Duivenvoorden, 2012 [2000];

Kadir, 2014; Owens, 2009). In the same neighbourhoods today, squats are extremely rare if not totally absent. The same buildings now house luxurious apartments.

Here we have a historical phenomenon (the movement), the material component of which is rich and still present, yet unrecognisable. This means that the squatting heritage in Amsterdam seems to have a very particular relationship with space. Former and contemporary squatters can refer to specific buildings as part of their heritage, but their presence in them is no longer visible. They are unable to rebuild or maintain a relationship with the material aspect of their heritage, as the buildings are now private property. This does not mean that they have “less” or “suppressed”

spatial heritage. It does mean though that the movement’s spatial heritage is not so focused on the material, but more on the intangible. A spatial heritage of this type is a good ground to implement psychogeographic tools on. In such a case, psychogeography may have an advantage over other spatial techniques that can analyse heritage, like traditional mapping, architectural analysis or visual analysis.

We saw why the case is suitable for psychogeographic methodology. I will also add that the methodology can be useful for the case. The representation of the squatters’ movement so far is largely focused in mediagenic, violent events, while the diversity of actors and modalities of struggle is undermined (Kadir, 2014). Psychogeographic tools, as we saw, can be useful to uncover individual and personal nuances and add them to the picture. However, we shall always keep in mind that we cannot compose the whole picture of a movement based strictly on individual recollections, especially if they come by figures who are normatively considered as protagonists (See the effects of such an attitude in the memory discourse around May ’68 in Ross, 2002). That is why we should declare that our research is by no means intended to cover the whole of Amsterdam squatters’ heritage.



The method and its limitations

… we hope to show that all lives have an accompanying geography. All lives are, so to speak, located or ‘em-placed’. They have a temporal as well as a spatial dimension

(Byrne & Nugent, 2004, p. 137)

With an idea of the placeness that is linked to memory and experience in mind, I set out to uncover stories of people who had participated in the squatters’ movement, using my adapted psychogeographical tools. I based my methodology on the assumption that I could extract insights on the heritage of the movement from the narrations and the interaction of people who lived through the events. Oral narrations and maps produced from an insider’s perspective can lead us to important insights, the road to which was previously blocked by a bibliography based on documentation done from outsiders (Byrne & Nugent, 2004). Walking through familiar places helps people remember (Byrne & Nugent, 2004). While each individual encounter with a participant was allowed to evolve organically, I gave them all a common task. This could enable a critical comparison between outputs (Bertolino et al., 2017).

As already mentioned, my method was not fully decided by the time I got into the field. The field encounters helped standardize it. Rather than this being seen as a lack of rigour, I consider it an advantage for a study that hopes to explore a methodological toolbox and takes participants into account for that exploration.

My general framework was the following. I searched for people that were active in the squatters’

movement (already) before the year 2000, to become my participants. I would meet each of them in a place of their choice, having previously informed them that we should walk in an area relevant to their personal experiences in the movement. When we met, we would first have an open discussion. Then followed the walk, a wandering through the city, which is inspired by the situationist dérive. Finally, the participant had to make a map of their own, again with personal experiences and memories from the movement as a theme. I tried to make each one of the abovementioned stages open enough, so as to give space to the participant to share thoughts,



memories or feelings even if they were not linked to the movement. This choice had its effects on the output, both negative and positive, as we will see later.

The time frame for the research demanded a specialized approach. I consider that my main question – the extent to which participatory practices based in psychogeography are helpful for heritage – can be better served with a comparative approach between two or more case studies.

Alternatively, an approach that would combine and compare individual walks and maps with collective ones would also be very enlightening. I had to proceed with only one case study and one approach, based on individuals. Therefore, I can give insight into only a small fragment of the methodological potential opened by the question.

The limited time frame for the research, combined with a great degree of difficulty to find participants, limited their number to only four. This means that the analysis I would do would be less based on extracting recurring issues and finding patterns. Instead, I went more into the details of each encounter, attempting to discuss their differences and similarities without implying patterns and laws. My analysis does not intend to be read as definite and exhaustive but as a creative and exploratory process of assessing some firsts outputs. What puzzled me more than the small number of my participants, and brings serious limitations to the research, is their positionality and especially the lack of women among them. I will discuss this issue thoroughly after I have presented the case study and my participants. To the already mentioned limitations, I shall add the language gap between me and my participants, which may filter more emotional or direct expressions that can be found in one’s mother tongue. The meetings were held in English, while the mother tongue of all my participants was Dutch and mine is Greek.

As described above, there is an open question in heritage studies regarding the role of space.

This question can be linked to the role of emotion and affect. Psychogeography is a promising methodology to address these issues. In my research, I adapt the practices of dérive and psychogeographic mapping into participatory practices of walking and mapping with the participants. In the following chapter, we will go through the methodological traditions that converge in this research, addressing among others the genealogy of psychogeography and reviewing some current academic inquiries based on it.



Mapping, walking, feeling: a review of the methodological traditions

It is important to make clear that participatory or experiential mapping exists regardless of psychogeography, and similarly, walking as a research method exists regardless of the psychogeographical dérive. The idea of participatory mapping is rooted in the critiques of authorised, colonising cartography. It has developed as its own concept and has seen a wide range of applications, in fields varying from urban and human geography to heritage studies and psychology. Walking and talking methods emerge in the frame of critical reflections of ethnographers on their work, and are gaining popularity in anthropology and psychology. On the other hand, contemporary applications of dérive and psychogeography are more common in literature and art. Psychogeography actively resists the scientific method and aims for another type of knowledge production. Maybe as a result of this, psychogeography has seen only sparse applications into academia. We will later discuss some of these applications and the issues they bring in front.

The alternate, emotion-revealing cartographical modes

The development of cartography is deeply linked with the development of military and colonisation, from the ancient Mediterranean colonisations to European invasions of the Americas and Africa. To map something means to control it (see Wood et al., 2010). The cartographer holds power on the representation of the mapped territory, and by that determines the field of

“common sense” surrounding this territory. Maps are not in any way objective, abstracted from the societal background in which they emerge; instead, they contain the positionality and choices of their author and the possible interests they serve (Wood, 1993). However, they are very effective in hiding that quality. Maps construct very elegantly a sense of objectivity, concealing the fact that their knowledge is socially constructed, or, in other words, the fact that they mostly produce the space that they are supposed to represent (Baudrillard, 1983; Wood, 1993).



Initially, the turn in spatial studies in the early seventies that dismissed the positivist perception of space, had as a side-effect the dismissal of maps as well (Hadjimichalis, 2016). Nardi (2014) thinks that this tendency led to a “cartographic myopia”. As a result, texts that encompassed a very human-centred and critical perception of space, such as Tilley’s A Phenomenology of Landscape (1994), which we will meet later as a basic theoretical reference of my research, were accompanied by rather dry topographical maps. This tendency started to change at the end of the eighties (Hadjimichalis, 2016).

Seeing how things like the positioning of the north to the upper part of the maps and of Europe to the centre has affected our perception of global politics, geographers, academics, activists and artists have now engaged in a pursuit to rethink maps from scratch. Decolonisation of mapping has been explored by various theorists (Byrne, 2008). This trajectory is aligned with attempts to criticise the “objective” nature of cartography (Harley, 2001) and produce new modalities of mapping, which involve participation and emotions. Such new cartographies are usually aware of the power of maps in constructing reality. Their difference lies in their commitment to using that power to promote subversive, local, marginal or suppressed realities, or to pass environmental and social justice messages (Wood, 1993).

However, participatory, subjective methods of mapping do not emerge solely as an internal critique on the field of cartography. Various researchers in the fields of socials sciences, humanities and psychology have become interested in maps as a way of representing and unlocking qualities that were missing from interviews and other textual narratives (McGrath et al., 2020). As Bruner (1991) notes, verbal narratives tend to be structured around time, which obscures the spatial aspect. Byrne and Nugent (2004) argue that mapping helps make attachment to the land visible. Participatory mapping can be used to counter the effects of top-down planning procedures, and build community-based narratives for space that oppose state narratives (Livingmaps Network, n.d.). Byrne refers to countermapping, which can be used for example as a tactic to counter the effects of colonial and postcolonial mapping (and the discourse that accompanies them). It can also be an answer to problems of oversimplification produced by large scale GIS mapping projects, which tend to neglect delicate cultural qualities of the areas they map (Byrne, 2008). In the heritage field, we would add, it can be used to counter the effects of Authorised Heritage Discourse.



There are different paths for this critical mapping. On the one hand, we have the family of participatory mapping. Counter mapping (Byrne, 2008) and community mapping are methodologies in that trajectory. On the other hand, we have mapping techniques that are not based on community participation but attempt to include emotion and experience. We find here approaches based on phenomenology and situationism. An example is the approach that Bender, Hamilton and Tilley applied in Cornwall, where they tried to view an archaeological site from a variety of self-reflexive perspectives (Bender et al., 1997). My research looks at the junction of these two traditions, bringing together maps that are produced through participation and maps that are informed by experience and emotion. There are some relevant attempts in the field of psychology, used as therapeutic tools, such as the Tree of Life developed by Ncube (2006). An interesting idea is the use of technology to bring to the fore experiential and subjective aspects.

Nold (2009) has created the methodology of Bio-mapping, using GPS and Skin response data. At the same time, participatory platforms like OpenStreetMap seem to contribute to an unprecedented democratisation of mapping (Sylaiou et al., 2015). However, I will personally side with Nardi (2014) when she claims that technological techniques usually fail to capture the sense of place.

Nardi (2014) has implemented a practice she calls “collaborative experiential mapping”. Coming from a background in archaeology and oral history, she made an on-site participatory project in Vittorio Veneto, Italy, to scope the potential of this method. Participants walked and took photos of the selected area, concluding in the creation of a map. The result is no more special than an enriched version of a classical topographical map. This is a conscious decision taken together with the participants. The readability of the map makes it accessible to large audiences and therefore enhances the social impact of the project and the value that the participants see in it. A detail that I consider important regarding her method is that she and her participants produced a draft version of the map first, and then returned to it to reflect and revise it for a second version. The latter is the final product of the project, but is not in any way considered definitive; it is exhibited to the community in order to open a discussion.

In their project on Aboriginal spatial heritage in a specific area of New South Wales, Byrne and Nugent (2004) created maps after a process of open oral interviews with locals. The participants narrated their stories, and were provided with an aerial photograph of the area, with which they



could interact or not. In many instances, the photo fed the discussion. In a later stage, the researchers passed the information from the aerials and the stories into GIS. In this methodology, the participants did not create the map (in most cases); rather, the map was extracted from their narrations and interaction with aerials. Though the results are visually satisfying and informative, this methodology does not go beyond authorized tools of cartography.

Walking and talking as a method

We will now move to a brief note on the history of walking as a research method. The theorisation of the flâneur by Walter Benjamin (Benjamin, 1940) can be considered a starting point. However, flâneur is most specifically linked with the situationist idea of the dérive, which will be discussed in detail later. At the same time, ethnographers were perhaps always engaging in walks as part of their work, but the effect of walking itself was not problematised. Until recently, many researchers who walked either alone or with participants as part of their inquiry did not necessarily keep track of this or question how this affected their research (Pierce & Lawhon, 2015). The first fragments of consciously engaging with walking as a method can be seen in the Chicago School, though it was not discussed as such (ibid). A more consistent exploration of the method began in the 2000s (ibid). Anderson (2004) saw that walking and talking with the participants enabled them to discuss embodied experiences that most probably would not come out in a seated environment. Edensor (2010, p. 70) noted

The rhythms of walking allow for a particular experiential flow of successive moments of detachment and attachment, physical immersion and mental wandering, memory, recognition and strangeness (…)

In a walking interview, the interviewee is usually asked to reflect on their surroundings, which are part of their personal stories. It is usual for such interviews to be conducted in one’s neighbourhood or working environment. They can help unveil and localise attachment and social relationships. Clark and Emmel list several advantages of such interviews over static ones: the interviewees have more control in the direction of the interview; walking through places



stimulates reflections that would probably not appear otherwise; and it is possible to connect better with the context (Clark & Emmel, 2010). O’ Neil and Roberts (2019) see walking and talking as a potential biographical method that can be inclusive, experiential and embodied, a way to come closer to memories and positionalities of the person with whom you are walking.

Pierce and Lawhon stress the importance of being aware of one’s gender positionality to maintain quality in walking as a research method (Also O’Neill & Roberts, 2019). More generally, the readers of a research work conducted by walking and talking should be able to evaluate the researcher’s experience and weigh the validity of their insights (Pierce & Lawhon, 2015). For these reasons, the researcher should report on the circumstances, the limitations, the time frames and other variables of their walking, as well as implications derived from their positionality (e.g. gender, ethnicity or class).



Psychogeography derives from the situationists, but to better understand the birth of the concept we should situate the situationists in their wider context. Politically, the situationists came into existence in a period when western communist parties, like the French one, were facing a crisis.

The initial appeal of the Leninist project had declined through the rise and fall of Stalinism (Robertson, 1996); in France, a large part of the radical youth and the intellectual elite disregarded the communist party as bureaucratic (Porter, 2016), and even found the alternative versions of militant left lacking inspirational elements (Robertson, 1996). Situationists drew theoretical inspirations from leftist thinkers with libertarian tendencies, such as Henri Lefebvre and the group Socialisme ou Barbarie (Ball, 1987; Gray, 1996). The youth was hungry for revolutionary ideas and ready to mobilise massively in search of social change. It was in this context that the small international collective of the situationists became influential, to the point of affecting the semi- revolutionary events of 1968 (Gray, 1996; Sadler, 1998). This context is the same as the one that frames the movement we take as a case study, and this is a very intriguing coincidence. What is



more, the Provo movement in Amsterdam can be considered a realisation of the situationists’

political and cultural ideal: a revolution of everyday life in the form of a political movement (Gray, 1996). The Provos were short-lived, but the processes they started partly continued inside the squatters’ movement (Gemert et al., 2012; Kennedy, 1995).

Artistically and culturally, situationists fall in a line that passes through the avant-gardes of the

“small 20th century”: Dada, Surrealism, Lettrism, the COBRA movement (Gray, 1996; Plant, 1996).

The concepts and practices developed by the situationists were seen by them as revolutionary tools. Inside the organisation, political thought went side by side with artistic expression. The one seemed the continuation of the other, without clear boundaries visible (See (Debord, 1955, 1994).

Their emancipatory vision included the overthrow of capitalism and a new mode of urban life, where pleasure had an important place (Gray, 1996; Sadler, 1998).

Three key concepts need elaborating further. We have psychogeography, which is an umbrella concept, dérive - which is a practice within the previous concept but has initiated and reaches out outside of it - and psychogeographic maps, which is the junction between two distinct concepts, psychogeography and mapping.

Psychogeography and dérive trace their roots to before the formation of the Situationist International, in the practices of lettrists (Gray, 1996). Chtcheglov was important in the formation of these ideas (Bonnett, 1996; Gray, 1996). The most famous passage in which psychogeography is introduced is though Debord’s 1955 essay “Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography”.

Here, it is defined as

the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical

environment (...) consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals.

(Debord, 1955)

But as Sidaway (2021) insightfully notices, and our own dérive through the various publications proves, the passage that comes exactly before this definition and gives the source of the term is rarely if ever mentioned in the bibliography.

The word psychogeography, suggested by an illiterate Kabyle as a general term for the phenomena a few of us were investigating around the summer of



1953, is not too inappropriate. It does not contradict the materialist perspective of the conditioning of life and thought by objective nature.

(Debord, 1955)

We can notice two things here. One is the obscure identity of the coiner of the term, reduced to his or her ethnic identity and the adjective ‘illiterate’, which seemingly is there to ensure us that the person cannot present their idea on their own (Sidaway, 2021). Should we attribute a derogatory purpose to Debord? Regardless of the answer, if we position this passage in its era of rising anti-colonial movement and the French state’s oppressive and racist policies against colonial populations - bearing in mind that the Kabyles are an Amazigh peoples of Northern Africa – the birth of the concept gains another level of complexity.

The second interesting detail is that Debord addresses the qualities of the term via negation. We witness how a key concept is born from a lack of better alternatives. It initially serves as nothing more than a placeholder signalling an emerging practice. We shall keep this in mind as we witness the transformations of the concept and the restless anxiety of later applicants to not decontextualise it.

For Debord, psychogeography was inherently and purposefully open-ended and vague, an explorative practice aimed at enabling chance and play for its subjects, where life was turned into

“an exciting game” (Debord, 1955). Looking at the whole toolbox of situationist concepts in general, from dérive to the situation to unitary urbanism, there was little coherence and a large degree of ambiguity (Sadler, 1998).

Dérive and psychogeographic maps

Dérive has clear sources preceding the situationist movement. The first traces are usually indicated in the work of Baudelaire, who described the flâneur, an individual who is wandering through the crowded city without destination (Bertolino et al., 2017). From there, Walter Benjamin enters the scene to analyse the Baudelairian notion of flânerie and its subject, the flâneur (Benjamin, 1940).

The work of Benjamin is highly discussed as the keystone of the dérive. It is interesting to point out that as Benjamin attempted his conceptualisation of flânerie, the city to which he was referring had already disappeared, as Hausmmanian redevelopments had changed the urban fabrics of Paris and other European cities. Benjamin was aware of this contradiction (Basset, 2004).



The genealogy of the concept then travels back to Paris and to the Dada movement, which organised a – not so successful – “event”, a walk on the Left Bank of Paris (Basset, 2004). The descendants of the Dada, the surrealists, involved walking in their deambulations. Benjamin returned to criticise both surrealists and his own work (Buck-Morss, 1991), as did also Guy Debord (Sadler, 1998).

Through this, we reach the situationist conceptualisation of the derive, described in 1956 in a short essay by Debord:

One of the basic situationist practises is the dérive [literally: “drifting”], a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiences. Dérives involve playful- constructive behaviour and awareness of psychogeographical effects and are thus quite different from the classic notions of journey or stroll.

(Debord, 1956)

Important in the conception of the dérive is the combination of “letting-go” and the following of psychogeographical laws, like the “path of least resistance”, the psychogeographical ‘contours’, the unities of ambience and the pivotal points (ibid). There is a significant tendency to think of the dérive as a form of walking dominated by chance. At least from a Debordian perspective, this is far from true. On the contrary, Debord claims that the chance factor is enlarged by our lack of developed psychogeographical thinking (ibid). Debord distances the situationist concept of dérive from the surrealist one (Sadler, 1998).

The other concept of the triad, psychogeographic maps, can be considered as the form of cartography that psychogeography needed to represent consciousness and feeling (Basset, 2004).

The situationists wanted to map unités d’ ambience (unities of ambience), pentes (gradients/contours) and plaques tournantes (an ambiguous term, which is translated by some as pivotal points ; see Basset, 2004; Sadler, 1998). Regarding the psychogeographic map, I suspect that the second counterpart, map, has somewhat overshadowed the potential of the concept, as we tend to include our assumptions of what is a map in our attempts to make psychogeographic



maps. In relevance to that, Collier (2013) warns that psychogeographical maps are a negative method, seeking to undermine mapping and not to create a better paradigm of mapping.


In the decades following the dissolution of the SI, the practices of the situationists became widely reused and appropriated: above all “the most popular objects of selective desire” (P. Smith, 2010), dérive and psychogeography. Psychogeography became something that can be considered more an expanded tradition than a concise practice. Smith accuses a part of the contemporary literature on psychogeography for exclusionary citation, using as an example Coverley’s (2009) Psychogeography, which Smith considers an attempt to “wrench psychogeography from its theoretical frame in the critique of the spectacle” (P. Smith, 2010, p. 104). Bonnett considers that the “repackaging” of situationism to relate with post-modern sensibilities has led to the loss of its political aspect (Bonnett, 1996).

Personally, I think that psychogeography as a concept is a bit like a firework – its charm is concentrated in the word and is deployed by the launching of the word-concept in the skies of the theme one is interested in. The structure of the concept, especially in its initial situationist form, is usually of little interest to us in contrast to its charm. This seems to be a characteristic of situationist terms, including the term situationist itself. I do not know the extent to which situationists wanted this to happen, but it seems to be happening and this is the way their ideas transcend their historical and spatial context and remain popular today.

Psychogeography found a “second life” in British literature, as a form of exploration of urban space based in the local. This body of work constituted an attack on the homogenising effects of conservative, Thatcherite politics. British literature that appropriated the "psychogeography” label interested itself with the eerie, the secret and the occult (Mudie, 2016), as seen paradigmatically in Ian Sinclair's book White Chapel, Scarlet Tracings (2004 [1987]). More engaging with the dérive is Sinclair's London Overground (2015) and other works between 1997 and 2015. In Sinclair, psychogeographic techniques are used in a mostly oppositional rhetoric against the grand projects that gentrify, depoliticise and homogenise the city (Mudie, 2016).



In that sense, psychogeographic threads are linked with a certain kind of nostalgia for a city that is always drifting away, a "city before" (also in Benjamin's flâneur, as we saw above) or a "city beneath" (in the situationists, see also the famous 1968 slogan about the beach under the pavement). Thus, my thesis object, Amsterdam of the late 20th century with its vivid and strong movements, fits well in this tradition. This nostalgic character also brings psychogeography in the road of heritage. New categories of heritage are uncovered, a heritage that is sometimes marginal, sometimes grassroots and local, almost always unofficial.


The story so far seems bright, yet there is an interesting question that slips psychogeographers’

mind until the turn of the millennium. Who is walking? If one looks carefully into Benjamin's conceptualisation of flâneur, into Situationists’ dérive and British authors’ walkers, it becomes evident that we are in front of a male, economically secure, white subject. The drifter thrusts through a city viewed in a somewhat feminine way, as an object to be conquered, passive yet desirable (see discussion in Sadler, 1998; 80). If one would remember that the concept's birth is linked with Baudelaire and Les Fleurs du mal this becomes more evident. The situationist myth that the conquering of unknown and exotic parts of the city could promote civilisation can even be parallelised with orientalism and imperialism (Sadler, 1998).

None of these positionalities is openly addressed by the authors (Sadler, 1998). The drifter seems to be colourless, genderless and classless – and that is exactly where the privilege demonstrates itself and where the positionality of the drifter appears as “the elephant in the room”. The drifter finds no uneasiness to walk through the city at night, and pass through potentially dangerous places. The drifter has a lot of time to spend in the drift and does not seem to worry about the prices of commodities such as food and alcohol. Finally, the drifter does not talk about barriers in entering specific places. And that's why the drifter is male, middle-class and white (See Bridger, 2013).

The feminist critique of psychogeography and the dérive does not mean its abandonment though.

It is a call for new conceptualisations, such as the flaneuse (see Rose, 2015). It demands that contemporary drifters and psychogeographers should always be aware of their positionality



(Bridger, 2013). Relevant to such concerns is the idea of blurring the subject/object divide that dominates both academic research and the practice of urban explorations. Pyyry (2019) attributes this divide to the “Neo-Kantian idea of ‘detached explorer’” and calls for a move to a researcher who is “continuously becoming with the research process, changing along with it”. In such a way, experimentation can be cultivated (Thrift, 2011).

In this general direction, we should take into account the differentiated experiences of the dérive that had two specific members of SI: Michèle Bernstain, a woman, and Abdelhafid Khatib, an Algerian, arrested twice during his dérives for violating the curfew imposed on Algerian residents at the time. For them, it was more about ‘reclaiming the night’ (Sadler, 1998): a liminal mission that brought the subjects face to face with the borders that their identity implied on space and time.

Contemporary academic psychogeographical inquiries

Recent projects invoking psychogeography can be extremely different from each other. Some aim to create situations (Souzis, 2015), others to interpret spatial conditions (Bertolino et al., 2017), others to reflect on psychogeography itself (Basset, 2004). It does not seem that a common understanding of the application of psychogeography exists. Different projects emerge from the same classical definition of Debord and the Situationist tradition but end in very different paths.

The general sense one can acquire is that terms such as dérive and psychogeography are used rather arbitrarily by the various projects that appropriate them. This is not necessarily bad; maybe this ambiguity, which is facilitating appropriation, is in the DNA of Situationist thought – as Situationists appropriated pop culture in their detournements. With this in mind nevertheless, it is perhaps valuable to view psychogeography and dérive as travelling concepts, in the way that Mieke Bal (2002) discusses the term.

I will now briefly demonstrate some attempts that helped in developing my own approach. Pyyry (2019) conducts a dérive in the specific neighbourhood of Villanova, Catalunya. Pyyry’s derive is part of a clearly politicised research, looking into “spatial justice and everyone’s right to the city”

(Pyyry, 2019, 316). It is done in a mostly autoethnographic mode. Their method, non- representational photo-walking aims at overcoming the situationist distinction between the city



and the explorer, in a process of becoming with the city. Feeling has a particular part to play in this process.

One other implementation of the dérive comes from an architecture school (Bertolino et al., 2017) (We should note here that situationist ideas are a common reference in architectural schools, and in such a context I myself first encountered them). The students in that case drifted through the post-industrial site of Holbeck, Leeds. The paper of Bertolino et al. focuses on the documentation technique developed by a specific pair of students.

The students chose to record the dérive with two cameras: one placed in front of the body and one on the back. This enabled them to have two products from the walk, each of which provided a different point of view, which were edited together in a movie. However, I would like to problematise the fact that these products are the visual counterpart of the reality of the walk. In a culture highly dominated by the visual (See Jay, 1993; Urry, 2003), it is easy for a visual product to overshadow other aspects of reality. Dérive’s importance is exactly on the multiplicity and multisensorial dimensions of the experienced reality. In this case, I feel that this multiplicity is underplayed by the visual product, which is at the very end a very dry manifestation of the neighbourhood - even within the field of the visual itself. On the other hand, the rear camera gives an interesting turn in the practice. Because what it captures is something by default excluded from the lived experience of the drifter. It creates a product that does not seek to represent the dérive, as a video that comes from a similar viewpoint as the eye. This product can be set on the side of the dérive, creating a dialogue with it.

Another aspect we can highlight in Bertolino et al’ s conceptualisation is the use of the idea of

“consciously uncontrolled” to describe the condition of their dérive. It was conscious, as the students made a preparation for it, which did not include learning the area by the map, but did include reflections on psychogeography and Debord themselves. It was uncontrolled, as there were no directions or map to follow at the moment of the dérive. This conceptualisation could fit our case, where the dérive needs to be on a specific subject, the squatters’ movement.

While others attempted to psychogeographically explore their own local areas, a group of human geography students from the University of Bristol was brought to the very scene of the crime



(Basset, 2004). Divided into groups, the students explored areas of Paris, in a course exercise that aimed exactly at reflecting on situationist theories. The multiplicity of students’ modes of dérive, as well as their reflections and the ways they presented their dérive back in class, gives a good idea of the wealth of diverging paths that psychogeography opens.

Interesting implementations of dérive are also happening in cities outside of Europe and the Anglosphere. For example, Mater (2016) has made an account of Meccah, problematising contemporary building development, in a similar approach to British psychogeographers.

Sharanya (2016) uses psychogeography in Delhi, warning about its limitations as a practice developed around the European city.

As we saw, participatory maps are becoming popular in a variety of areas outside the borders of geography. Walking interviews are also gaining popularity. The practices of the situationists can serve as a leading reference to both maps and walking, while their concept of psychogeography provides an interesting point of view. Situationist concepts are ambiguous, and their implementation in academic research can be done in very diverse ways. Some contemporary examples of psychogeographic research can be a source of valuable insights, relevant for our own research. These include the political aspect of psychogeographic practices, their limitations, the importance of feeling, the different senses and media involved, the nature of the dérives and the diversity of different pathways one can take.



Space, heritage and social movements

Before we proceed to the research proper, it is important to discuss briefly what “spatial heritage”

could mean. What is space for heritage? Is space just a container ? Or is such a conceptualisation a radical simplification?

The relationship between heritage and space has been reconsidered in the light of two major shifts in the respective fields. The emergence of critical heritage studies led to the revision of previous normative connections of space and heritage. At the same time, the spatial disciplines distanced themselves from positivist conceptions of space.

The spatial disciplines in the middle of the century, such as the so-called new geography and new archaeology, were based on a conceptualisation of space considered to be objective and materialist: a space which was a container for human activity, existing regardless of it, constituted from geometries (Tilley, 1994). In the light of more recent theory though, this way of thinking has been shown to be idealistic. Drawing on phenomenology on the one hand, and a revision of dialectic approaches on the other, a set of new theories saw space as relational and subjective.

This space was less a container than a medium (Tilley, 1994). Space can be conceived experientially, as important philosophical contributions from a phenomenological perspective suggest (Heidegger, 1972; Merleau-Ponty, 1962) Lefebvre sees space as a hegemonical tool (Lefebvre, 1991). There is no absolute space; a space that is common to all is nothing more than a schema used by society to reach cohesion (Lefebvre, 2006).

Tilley (1994, p. 15) sees five categories of space. The somatic space is the space as perceived by the body. The perceptual space is perceived and encountered by individuals in their everyday lives. It has to do with the perception of distances and objects. Then we have the existential space, which is interlinked with it. Existential space refers to the “lived space as constructed in the concrete experiences of the individuals socialized within a group” (ibid 1994, p. 16). There is also architectural space: Tilley defines this as an attempt to bound space. Architecture makes the space visible and sensible. That is why it plays a crucial role in the reproduction of existential space, and



influence potentially the perceptual one. Finally, Tilley considers cognitive space, a basis for reflection and theorization, a dialectic space.

In the heritage field, there is a shift of focus away from the material and the monumental, and towards intangible heritage (Harrison, 2013; L. Smith, 2006). This means that previous normative connections between heritage and space are no longer considered valid (L. Smith, 2006). New conceptualisations are now filling the gap.

Space in heritage is sometimes thought of as a resource or a tool. Smith (2006) points out that

“Heritage sites, places (….) may certainly be identified as textual resources around which specific narratives are written and negotiated and thus become cultural tools in the processes of remembering”. Zerubavel (1996, p. 292) has stressed the role of materiality in the preservation of social memories: again here space is a tool of memory. For Ashworth, while heritage itself does not need a location in space, the people that associate with it do (Ashworth 2005, p. 193). The concepts of material agency (Kirchhoff, 2009) and Lieux de Memoire (Nora, 1989) can also be useful to determine the role of space for heritage.

On the other hand, we shall not only discuss what is the role of space for heritage but also what is the role of heritage for space. In this direction, Rossi’s (1984) declaration that it is history – the long duration – that creates the unity of place is important. Place is a concept in close contact with space, yet the distinction between the two is crucial and constitutes the object of many of the academic attempts for a theory of space (Tilley, 1994). As Withers (2009) notes, place, despite its extensive use as a base term, has been defined in more than one way. This is not necessarily a problem but a potential advantage. The knowledge of place, Tilley tells us, emerges from human experiences, emotions and thoughts (Tilley, 1994). Casey (2001) also notes the role that place plays in forming and influencing human identity.

The interesting point for our study is related to Rossi’s aphorism. The road from space to place may pass through what Rossi considers long duration, or, in our terms, through heritage. Indeed, Ashworth (2005, p. 193) mentions that heritage is part of the process that transforms space into place. Heritage, we could say, assigns meanings to parts of space, turning them into places.

Identities are then anchored to these places.

Smith (2006) is also interested in place. She borrows from Low and Lawrence-Zúñiga (2003) the idea that place is a way that space is meaningfully organized. Both are “physically and emotionally



encountered” (L. Smith, 2006). Place in this reading has no meaning as a mere locality or building.

The architectural or aesthetic value of a building or a street is not always important. The emotional encounter with it is what creates the “place”.

Space of course is also of great importance for social movements, especially squatting.

Occupations, for example, seek to challenge the capitalist organisation of space to create alternative socio-spatial realities (Rancière, 2016). We can extend this thought to permanent occupations: squats. These new realities seek to support needs that are neglected or negated by the socioeconomic system. Social movements have their own visions about space. The occupation of a place disrupts the distribution of the spheres of activity, like the ones of work, inhabitance, entertainment and political representation (Rancière, 2016). The analysis and potential deconstruction of the opposition between private and public space is also a point of feminism (Bridger, 2013).

The social movements do not always see their contributions as heritage, nor do they always address or problematize their own heritage. What they do, however, is mobilise heritage in various ways to secure their rights in space (De Cesari & Herzfeld, 2015). Orli Fridman has demonstrated the triangle of social movements, heritage and space in a satisfying way via the example of Serbian anti-war groups. These groups have established an alternative calendar of war commemoration, but they cannot do so in a void; instead, they mark the public space, which becomes an arena of competing memories (Fridman, 2015). A social movement that may perform some kind of commemoration or speak for some kind of heritage may be considered as a mnemonic community (Zerubavel, 1996). As such, the movement fights mnemonic battles. The battles can be on the space - which can be considered the battlefield - and at the same time, over space – which can be now considered the trophy. At the same time that these battles are emplaced, they are also over the interpretation of the past, or about the delineation of historical narratives (ibid 1996). There are also battles for how and under whose leadership should be the past commemorated (ibid 1996), in other words battles about the modality and ownership of heritage.



Let us now, before we move on, try to formulate some statements that can serve as the outcome of our small theoretical overview.

Space is not a background. It can be a trophy and a medium, and usually, it is both. Space does not exist regardless of time and the human: it is formed by the past, via the memory of the people, which transforms spaces into places.

Thus, spatial heritage is not simply a heritage in space. It is a quality of the space, a constitutive element of it. If the space is made by places, heritage is a glue, a network of meanings which both constitutes places and arranges them, organises them. It functions mostly into what Tilley (1994) calls existential space.

Spatial heritage is not necessarily material heritage. The different typologies of space demonstrated by Tilley (1994) do not converge in the material. Existential space especially (ibid 1994) can have a very strong immaterial counterpart (this last point will be specifically relevant in the analysis of our research).

A conceptualisation of space in this direction is served well by situationist practices. As Sadler notes, the psychogeographic map acknowledges a space that is re – constructed in the imagination; a space “fragmented, subjective, temporal, and cultural” (Sadler, 1998).

I will now apply this theoretical discussion and the methodological approach mentioned earlier to the case study of Amsterdam’s squatters’ movement.



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