i De Verademing, a free space of relief in Amsterdam
The manifestations of diversity and inclusivity in a paradoxical relationship between governmentality and counterculture
MSc. Cultural and Social Anthropology - GSSS
Julie van Luit - 13111558 Julievanluit@gmail.com
Supervisor and first reader: Dr. Laurens Bakker Second reader: Dr. Yatun Sastramidjaja
Date of submission: June 17th, 2022 Place of submission: Sint Pancras
Word count: 22.929
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this written paper is entirely my own work, that I have carefully and correctly indicated all the sources that I have used, and that I have cited according to the rules. this paper, in this or
amended version, has not previously been submitted for another course or as part of another paper.
In front of you lies the dissertation 'De Verademing, a free space of relief in Amsterdam', which investigated the functioning of the self-organisational cultural initiative, De
Verademing in Amsterdam North, and the relation between counterculture and the increasing pressure on space in the city. This dissertation has been written to conclude the research performed for the Master of Applied Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam and in association with the Expedition Free Space, a fraction of the Municipality of Amsterdam. The research was conducted and written from January to June 2022.
The research population, topic, and methods provided me with numerous new
insights, both professionally and personally. It proved to be an enlargement of my perspective and thinking pattern, while raising awareness concerning the value of alternative social and cultural norms can extend your horizon, leading to a more peaceful and satisfactory state of mind. Additionally, my fieldwork period contained its challenges but was mostly filled with a sense of relief, appreciation, and gratitude towards the environment, community, and cultural characteristics.
I want to thank all my interlocutors for their generosity regarding information, hospitality, and curiosity. I have been welcomed and felt appreciated for my small
contributions. Next, I want to thank my supervisor, Dr. Laurens Bakker, my second reader, Dr. Yatun Sastramidjaja, and my gatekeepers from the Expedition Free Space, Julian Jansen and Joekenel van der Pijl. My brother deserves special thanks for the discussions and insights provided, from which this dissertation and I personally benefited greatly.
Julie van Luit
Sint Pancras, June 17th, 2022
Self-organisational cultural initiatives are argued to be essential for the city, not for their economic value, but because of their cultural and social value (Space of Urgency 2019).
There is a general understanding from various and contradicting stakeholders that the frayed edges of the city should be protected. However, there seems to be a deficiency in
understanding the meaning, value, purpose, and output of the self-organisational cultural initiatives and how these can be protected or supported accordingly. This research, therefore, focuses on gaining a more profound understanding of the social, cultural, and added value of De Verademing in Amsterdam North. Thus, the research question is: Why do free dwellers of the self-organisational cultural initiative De Verademing in Amsterdam re-create and sustain a counterculture in relation to the increasing pressure on place and space? This research question is supplemented by the applied research focus on how the Expedition Free Space, a fraction of the municipality of Amsterdam, can contribute to the development of the free spaces and their culture.
The recreation and continuance of the culture of De Verademing are explored through qualitative research methods like semi-structured interviews, participant observation,
qualitative questionnaires, and desktop research. Established on the collected data De Verademing revolves around a different relationship between time and monetary value, not adhering to the dominant neo-liberalistic values but somewhat counteracting them. The grounds of De Verademing function as a life laboratory, giving space to creativity,
experimentation, and development of a cultural capital containing different norms and values in terms of economic, material, and non-material matters. Additionally, importance is
attached to sharing knowledge, materials, food, and company, creating awareness, living with like-minded people, and being an inspiration for the broader environment of Amsterdam.
Introduction ... 2
Problem statement ... 5
Relevance ... 7
Methodology ... 8
Semi-structured interviews ... 8
Participant observations ... 9
Desktop Research ... 9
Qualitative questionnaire ... 10
Ethical considerations ... 10
Chapter 1. Rhizomatic network of autonomy and heterodoxy. ... 12
The landscape of neoliberal capitalism ... 13
Squatting ... 15
Counterculture ... 17
Interconnections of defiance ... 20
Chapter 2. The value of a mirroring and juxtaposing counterculture ... 22
Suspended Norms & Behaviors ... 23
Displacement & Emplacement ... 24
Juxtaposition ... 25
Different time ... 26
Open & Closing ... 28
Intensification of essence ... 29
Chapter 3. Formal and Informal Institutions ... 30
Civic responsibility ... 32
Eviction of ADM ... 32
Leeway of rules ... 34
Communal resilience ... 36
Immediacy ... 37
Life – laboratory ... 38
Crystallization of play ... 39
Radical inclusion ... 41
Self-reliance ... 45
Self-expression ... 48
Chapter 5. Shared behaviour ... 51
Decommodification of time & post-capitalist gifting ... 51
Relief of performance pressure ... 53
The magnitude of freedom ... 54
The comfort of sharing. ... 54
Participation and communal efforts ... 55
Leaving no trace ... 58
Use of materials ... 59
Nurturing of Nature ... 60
Conclusion ... 62
Bibliography ... 66
Appendix I ... 75
Appendix II ... Fout! Bladwijzer niet gedefinieerd. Appendix III ... 77
Appendix IV ... 81
Freedom. Amsterdam has been known for it for centuries. Maybe, she even grew up because of it. But how free can you still be in Amsterdam? Is there still room to just try something out of the ordinary? Something that does not make money but does have a place? Is there still enough freedom for the Amsterdam free spaces?
Traditionally there have always been many free places in Amsterdam, where more is possible and allowed than elsewhere in the city. Places where you can organise your life without the government's interference and the pressure of capitalism. Sites where you decide for yourself, spend your time, and with whom, without necessarily
generating money. Free places where you can work and live together in your way. But what makes a free space a free space? (Vrijplaatsenakkoord 2019)
Is De Verademing in your eyes no longer a free space? The answer that follows is 'no'. De Verademing must, because of its collaboration with the
municipality, comply with so many rules. We cannot dig in this ground, which we are currently doing… it could cause eviction from the property. Many rules should be followed, even more restrictions than you would typically encounter in an average neighbourhood, while that is not the idea of free space. However, she says, 'you must work with what you got; you can choose not to participate in this, but then you will end up having no place to go at all' (Frankie, January 31st, 2022).
Space is increasingly becoming commodified, scarce, and expensive. Therefore, pressing more creative, liberated, and non-monetary focusing initiatives into the literal and figurative corners of the city or even beyond the city boundaries. The loss of these 'alternatives' to the dominant society leads to monocultural neighbourhoods, decreasing the city's diversity and compromising Amsterdam's free-spirited characteristics. These free-spirited characteristics evolve around an unrestricted, often recalcitrant way of living, leading to unregulated manifestations of creativity. These manifestations can freely occur in accessible spaces, which are 'a wide range of non-commercial places where people meet, where they can
experiment, reflect, and commit themselves to social goals' (Gemeente Amsterdam 2020b: 5).
3 One of these free spaces is De Verademing, a
community of 40 individuals living on De Slibvelden since 2019 after being evicted from their old terrain, the ADM; see Fout! Verwijzingsbron niet gevonden. for an overview. The free space De Verademing, located on De Slibvelden, appointed with number 2 in Figure 1, has agreed to collaborate with the Expedition Free Space to aid the development of this specific free space and experiment for future collaborations. De Verademing is continuously developing, especially since the lease for 't Groene Veld, Figure 1.1, has been arranged through the Expedition Free Space and signed. Therefore, the terrain is rented to the community to develop an inclusive, diverse cultural and social meeting space. This
collaboration is joined with a different relation to capital and time than a classical free space, considering a rent must be paid for 'T Groene Veld, and thus, to a certain extent, money needs to be earned.
A counterculture is defined as a culture with norms and values that contradict and challenge the dominant culture of the society in which the counterculture is embedded (Yinger 1977). Expedition Free Space is a team instituted by the municipality of Amsterdam to facilitate the development of the counterculture, which is a paradoxical collaboration to
Figure 1. Areal presentation of Amsterdam, GIS.
Figure 2. Areal presentation of 't Groene Veld and De Slibvelden, residence of De Verademing.
4 start with, considering the two opposite entrenchments. However, the municipality does have its ambitions to facilitate the movement as displayed:
Amsterdam was, is, and remains an open and tolerant city. Visitors, companies, and refugees are welcome to enjoy our culture, freedom, and prosperity. That is why we protect what we are proud of…. It also means that we want to increase the scope for contrariness and entrepreneurial spirit for cultural avant-gardes and creative
companies: a night event, a neighbourhood vegetable garden, or a meeting place.
Scattered throughout the city, countless unique places have been created and designed collectively by all kinds of Amsterdammers. These places for experimentation,
meeting, and reflection make the urban living environment more colourful, social, and vital (Gemeente Amsterdam 2020a).
Outsiders recognise the city of Amsterdam for its tolerance, presence of free spirits, and richness in subculture diversity. The city's popularity has led to an influx of people with ideas and dreams, and everyone wants a piece of the city. However, within the capitalistic society, the foundation of development is placed on economic benefits and growth. Therefore, creative and cultural values that do not adhere to this commercial and economic ideology are overlooked or undervalued. Consequently, through the economic focus and increasing
pressure on available space, the city is moving towards 'the disappearance of a multi-coloured neighbourhood, small enterprises, craftmanship, and associations that cannot pay the
increasing rents. Thus, the space for idiosyncratic initiatives decreases under the pressure of the economic focus', which hinders individuality, and increases gentrification and
regulations, policies, and protocols (Vrijplaatsenakkoord 2019: §3). The decreasing diversity is leading the city to diminish its creative, open-minded, and tolerant characteristics
A generally employed way to avoid the highly regulated market used to be squatting, which is still used today to a lesser degree, entailing the occupation of space without consent from the owner, initiated after the building or parcel has been vacant for a more extended period. Squatting is often done out of necessity but is simultaneously deemed a method of activism to counteract the spoilage of scarce space. However, the squatting of buildings has become illegal in The Netherlands since implementing a new law against squatting in 2010
5 (NOS 2010). Consequently, an alternative form of unregulated space, rooted in the squatting movement, is the self-organisational cultural initiative, which is an unregulated haven for free dwellers and thinkers. The self-organisational cultural initiatives act as a counterculture to the increasingly dominant and regulated, economic-based culture that is currently the norm in the capitalistic system of The Netherlands. These places thus arise from the need for a bottom-up approach, collectively ruled, transparent and accessible, in response to the highly regulated space in the Netherlands (Kadir 2016: Vrijplaatsenakkoord 2019). This paradigm of alternative norms and values is responding to the capitalistic, hierarchical, mainstream consumption society in which individuality and materiality are central, neglecting the community, nature, and social added value (Breek and De Graad 2001: Stuart and Van De Lippe 2019). These places are the 'frayed edges of the city. Due to their unregulated nature, they are ideal to manifest towards a domain of social and cultural freedom, a place for creative development, and a catalysator for urban renewal contributing to diversity and connectivity in the city. Therefore, creating a space and momentum where people can develop a conglomeration of meaningful manifestations free from performance pressure improves the city and the wider environment (Gemeente Amsterdam 2020a).
The concept of free space in a city that is overcrowded, desired, and has increased property values is single-handedly a puzzle because of the diversity of stakeholders and their diverse interests. The free space, like the self-organisational cultural initiatives, is increasingly discussed in the literature, policy documents and in the governmental coalition as being an essential counterweight to the increasing homogeneity in the city. Space of Urgency, a digital platform that focuses on calculated methods to guide self-organised cultural initiatives in building and maintaining independent spaces for non-dominant culture, was asked by the municipality to assess the counterculture in Amsterdam. Consequently, Space of Urgency's report confirms the social and cultural value. However, there seems to be a deficiency in understanding the meaning, value and output of the self-organisational cultural initiatives and how they can be supported accordingly (Space of Urgency 2019).
Expedition Free Space, a task force of the municipality of Amsterdam, was founded, concerning the report from Space of Urgency, to aid the development of self-organisational
6 cultural initiatives. However, the officials from the municipality and the free thinkers adhere to different discourses and therefore have different norms, values, and forms of
communication. For free dwellers to maintain their continuation and autonomy, the
municipality of Amsterdam needs to gain a better understanding of the identity, values of the counterculture, the community, and the environment in a more holistic and in-depth manner, to be able to aid the movement. The deficiency in knowledge is partly because the free dwellers cannot be defined within the boundaries of municipal regulations since they hold different values and norms and enact within a different discourse. The contributions of the self-organisational cultural initiatives in terms of social and material skills, communal values, and perceptions of the world, the city, and the environment remain primarily undocumented until today. Along these lines, this research aims to identify the discourse and system of values of De Verademing to maintain the essential qualities of the city of Amsterdam.
Therefore, the research question that will be asked within this research is: 'Why do free dwellers of the self-organisational cultural initiative De Verademing in Amsterdam re- create and sustain a counterculture in relation to the increasing pressure on place and space?' This question will be answered through three sub-questions, which will lead to answering the main research question, as well as the applied research question: 'How can the Expedition Free Space encourage the livelihood of free dwellers and the self-organisational cultural initiatives of De Verademing?'.
Sub – Question 1: How is the counterculture embedded in the contemporary neoliberal landscape and its relation to place and space?
Sub – Question 2: How do the free dwellers experience the social added value of the self- organisational cultural initiatives for the city of Amsterdam?
Sub – Question 3: How do the free dwellers practice freedom of spirit, diversity, and personal aspirations, in relation to the dominant society, on both a communal and individual level?
The scientific relevance of this research is initially based on the limited amount of research that has been performed on De Verademing and its community within this setting since the community was forcibly removed, got involved with the Expedition Free Space and moved to De Slibvelden (Bals 2016; Bonasera et al. 2016; Breek & de Graad 2001; Dakakoglou 2019;
Stijnenbosch and Vroom 2016). Therefore, this research will contribute to the knowledge of the current social, cultural, political, and environmental circumstances of De Verademing.
Secondly, while the free spaces are described in policy documents, the coalition agreement, and the governmental college as an essential phenomenon to the well-being, diversity, and uniqueness of the city of Amsterdam, none of these documents describes what this importance encompasses in a more profound level. In combination with the increasing pressure on the city in terms of space and consequently the decreasing diversity and
grassroots movements, this research is important to city planning and related governmental departments (Milinowski 2018; Peck 2012; Savini & Dembski 2016; Space of Urgency 2019;
2022). Thirdly, and complementary to the second argumentation, is the collaboration between De Verademing and the Expedition Free Space in which an applied report, based on this research, will be delivered to the municipality of Amsterdam. The Expedition Free Space has indicated the need for a better and more profound understanding of free spaces' social and cultural added value so that their collaboration can benefit from the knowledge that this research will provide.
This research is founded upon the aspiration to deliver the missing insights into the cultural capital, motivations, and desires of the community and, therefore, to aid the
collaboration between the Expedition Free Space and De Verademing and, consequently, the perseverance of the community. From a broader perspective, this report could contribute to further collaboration between different countercultural groups and the Expedition Free Space, and thus to the broader development of the self-organisational cultural initiative and,
consequently, the diversification and commodification of the city. In general, the relevance of this research contributes to the public debate and creates a broader awareness within
Amsterdam and the Netherlands regarding alternative forms of living. By presenting the possibility of alternative ways of living, the autonomy and shaping power are returned to the people instead of being maintained in the top-down institutions. Throughout this thesis, the intention is to better understand the counterculture to regain balance in power between the
8 people and the government by increasing the power of the people. This research will
therefore deliver insights and arguments concerning the importance of continuing the counterculture, specifically De Verademing.
This research foundation is built upon qualitative research methods to get a profound and in- depth understanding of the counterculture, free spaces, and the community De Verademing.
Qualitative research methods create an intellectual space in which cultural capital, motivations, wishes, problems, norms, and values of the research population become the focal point. The research methods for this thesis are, concerning the qualitative methods and topic of the research, embedded in the discourse of cultural relativism. This discourse
assumes that social norms and values are manifestations of the cultural context in which they are embedded and should, therefore, explicitly be understood within this context (Caduff 2011).
Considering that most of this thesis focuses on the culture of De Verademing and its residents' personal lives and stories, one of the essential methods for qualitative data collection is the semi-structured interviews. The semi-structured interviews, with ten interviewees listed in Appendix I, were held in the interlocuter homes, instantly giving insight into the non-verbal cultural characteristics. Due to the unique environment in which the interviews took place, the interview often transformed into deep hanging out and small talk, eating, and drinking together while conversing about personal, professional, political, cultural, and environmental. The interviews, therefore, took a more personal and informal direction than first initiated, leading to very open conversations. The responses from the interlocuters have been open- and axial- and selectively coded according to the grounded theory method with the aid of the program Atlas.ti (Verhoeven 2007). The codes and, therefore, the linked data have been divided according to this thesis's different thematics, allocated into the different chapters, building towards answering the sub-questions supported by other research methods.
Small talk is a form of ethnographic fieldwork often neglected due to its unstructured appearance and ethical challenges. However, it is argued by Geertz (1998, cited in Driessen
9 and Jansen 2013) that small talk is merely a form of 'hanging around', which is the core of ethnographic fieldwork. Small talk helps establish a relationship with the interlocutor while providing local and inside knowledge of a community and is often applied as an unconscious method when performing an interview. Small talk is, therefore, a form of simple social interaction without pressure. This method, therefore, has contributed to gaining insight into the underlying tensions of the social network, the social relations between actors, and individual values and opinions among De Verademing residents.
Complementary to the semi-structured interviews and deep hanging out is the qualitative research method of participant observations. The daily practices, non-verbal cultural capital, physical manifestation, norms, values, and social connections were centralised. Participant observation is a crucial ethnographic research method because of its unique aspects of long- durée engagements with the community. Therefore, exposing social relations through the perspective of holism, in the setting of being a so-called 'befriended stranger'. It forces the researcher to question the theoretical assumptions made concerning the research topic and population and compels them to engage in the lives of strangers (Shah 2017).
Every day of fieldwork developed differently, with unexpected and surprising
elements, leading to insightful, humbling, or appreciative moments, which were consequently taken up within the fieldwork notes. Additionally, a personal diary was kept observing
alterations in some well-embedded social constructions, norms, and values on a personal level. This decision developed through altering personal insights raised awareness and inspiration concerning alternative ways of living.
Additionally, desktop research was employed to understand better the broader movement of the counterculture and squatting scene.
10 Appendix III gives an overview of the material. The desktop research consisted of listening to auditive documentation from the counterculture, reading news articles in Amsterdam
Alternative, social media feeds like the private Facebook group 'WE are ADM' and 'ADM Noord Community Project', videos, and documents from the ADM and De Verademing.
They are supplemented by attending public events like the panel discussions hosted by Amsterdam Alternative, a platform hosting events revolving around the counterculture. This method presented the magnitude and presence of this movement under a younger generation, in addition to the original squatting generation, and how this type of activism touches many people in a positive sense.
To better understand the influence of De Verademing on the broader social environment of Amsterdam and beyond, a qualitative questionnaire was distributed amongst the community's followers on Facebook. This method aimed to get a multi-angled perspective of the added value, not only for the residents of De Verademing but also for the irregular users. The term irregular user refers to the people who attend social gatherings and public events organised in the self-organisational cultural initiatives but who do not belong to the core of the free
dwelling society because they do not live or work in these places. They are an exciting group of interlocutors since they seek out the culture of the self-organisational cultural initiatives but do not submerge fully into them by living there. This way, 'the circulation of cultural meanings, objects, and identities in diffuse time-space' can be mapped (Marcus 1995: 96, cited in Driessen and Jansen 2013). However, the degree of response remained low
11 throughout the fieldwork period, providing a data collection of 60 respondents, therefore not providing a good validity. Hence the method is complementary yet not deployed as a reliable data source. The results from this method are displayed in Appendix IV.
Although not everyone wanted to engage in an in-depth conversation with me about their ideas, norms, and values, I was included in all the activities, parties and events during the fieldwork period. Therefore, sometimes encounter very personal or otherwise private phenomena that I have, to my best knowledge, excluded from this research to protect my informants, considering that that is my first and foremost concern.
My interviews and informal conversations were initiated only after providing a proper introduction of myself as a researcher, the topic, the purpose of my research and thus my connection to the municipality of Amsterdam to ensure informed consent from the
interlocuters. Additionally, anonymity and confidentiality are promised to all interlocutors;
therefore, no real names shall be mentioned throughout this thesis. The multiple stakeholders within the political environment of the self-organisational cultural initiatives all have their ambitions. A severe but potential harm could be that the information gained through this research would unconsciously lead to harm for the free dwellers, as it could compromise, for example, their precarious occupation of the land on which the self-organisational cultural initiatives are created. It has been shown in the past that the economic benefits can be
prioritised above the cultural and social initiatives, even if the free dwellers have the backing of the government and municipality. All information displayed will therefore be considered as to whether the gained in-depth insight can be taken advantage of and harm the
interlocutors and their community. Additionally, the community audited this research to ensure that the provided information and attached connotations align with the community's perspective.
Overall, as a researcher and person, I have aimed to my best abilities, to be honest, objective, mindful and open towards my interlocutors concerning my intentions, ambitions, aspirations, and concerns. My integrity and that of my interlocutors will stand central within this research, therefore respecting the intellectual property of my informants and treating them as confidential, taking all aspects of general ethics into account, and working towards a responsible publication of information. I will therefore aim to comply with the Principles of
12 Professional Responsibility to the best of my abilities (AAA Statement on Ethics, n.d.:
Chapter 1. Rhizomatic network of autonomy and heterodoxy.
The first chapter of this research focuses on the landscape in which the research location, population and ideology are embedded. It, therefore, introduces the ideology of
neoliberalism, its ambitions, functioning and pitfalls, which consequently led to the
development of squatting. After that, the chapter focuses more on setting the landscape of the population by discussing the counterculture and interconnections of defiance as a relation and product of both the neoliberal landscape and squatting movement. Throughout this chapter, the theory of rhizomatic assemblage, coined by Deleuze and Guattari (1987), is used, which will be elaborated on in the following section.
The theory on self-organisational cultural initiatives generally focuses on a
geographic location where a community resides and which they physically transform through their norms and values. However, while these communities of the counterculture depend upon space to reside and physically manifest their values, the augmented qualities are just as much a movement. They are therefore unconfinable to a place or space. This movement is based on the mutual but individual experience of like-minded people. It is therefore connected through participation in counteracting the mainstream society, regardless of the physical or intangible output (Gleadle 2013).
13 This rootlessness but mutually experienced relationality and connection to the
ideology of self-organisational cultural initiatives is theorised by Deleuze and Guattari
(1987). The theory of rhizomatic assemblage, showing many similarities to the functioning of the counterculture, can be compared to a network-like root system of weeding plant species; a phenomenon of entanglements that follows no specific path or direction, which has no
beginning or end, but keeps growing under certain circumstances, also after being cut down.
This theory is based on six principles: 1) connectivity and 2) heterogeneity; a rhizome can and should be connectable at any specific point. 3) multiplicity; only through a diversity of rhizomatic points can it be treated as one. 4) asignifying rupture and 5) cartography; a
rhizomatic can become dismantled or destructed, but it will come up through old paths of the movement or create new paths. 6) decalcomania; the rhizomatic is not amenable to a specific structure or model; the movement is a map, not a tracing. These principles have their separate meaning but are collectively characterised as a system of synergy (Reeves 2013).
The counterculture spirit is placeless and manifold and finds its continuation through the inspiration of individuals instead of being embedded in a place or material form. The spiritedness of the movement consists of a diverse range of engagers and manifestations, which connects like-minded people to its past, present and future (Gleadle 2013). Suppose a self-organisational cultural initiative, like the ADM community, is subjected to eviction. In that case, the spirit remains and can redevelop in a different place with the same standards, based on a foundation of creativity, adaptability, persistence, and innovation.
The landscape of neoliberal capitalism
The contemporary sociological landscape in The Netherlands is classified as neoliberalism.
This political philosophy claims to understand the relationship between human nature and economics, presuming that the expansion of human prosperity can be achieved by
maximising personal capital surplus. This landscape centralises capital cultivated through a free market, aiming to continue economic growth. This is accomplished through social engineering and tends to neglect social and cultural values (Baillie et al. 2013). The socially constructed common sense is thus a fixed set of norms and values that acts as an 'external invader constricting our mind, bodies and the self-realisation of our being today' (Fisher 2021: 3). Fisher (2021) describes this as capitalist realism, indicating that neoliberalism makes it hard for people to imagine an alternative to this discourse. This discourse of
14 capitalist realism, the reiteration through social networks and the focus on capital impede people from understanding that there are alternative formats of public and private endeavours over which individuals themselves hold the autonomy. Consequently, people are constrained, both in public and private domains, and held captive in a world of monopoly, wastefulness, finance-dominated free market and the reproduction of labor surplus (Fisher 2021).
For this thesis, two highly related issues belonging to a multi-angled problem are important to discuss. Firstly, the monetary focus through all discourses and institutions has led to an ever-increasing gap between financially privileged people and those that are not. At the end of the previous century, a housing shortage within the city increased to an
unprecedented height, forcing people to live in poor circumstances or worse. This resulted in the inability to find residency and forced to leave the city, excluding people from the
professional opportunities that the city has to offer. Secondly, and consequently, to the first argument, private property and profit have become the benchmark within Amsterdam, attracting investors and project planners who actively take properties off the market (Hemel 2002). The neoliberal discourse is choosing to profit over people, and the city is slowly but steadily transforming from a characteristic environment based on the foundation of free- spiritedness toward another highly regulated and homogenous landscape (ADM 2019b). The city and its unique characteristics of Amsterdam are transformed from qualities to
commodities due to the city's top-downward planning instead of a bottom-up and grassroots approach initiated by the local population of the concerned areas (Douglas 2014).
The city is thus arguably not shaped by its inhabitants. Still, instead, the city planning is forced upon them by the institutions that reinforce the neoliberal discourse, which often goes beyond the city's planners and local municipalities in the name of profit (Baillie et al.
2013). Therefore, the city centre is increasingly diminished in terms of its creative and low- profit initiatives, which are being pushed towards the outside of the city. The suburbs are, therefore, now the places where these developments can find a less hostile environment to flourish (Vice 2022). Adjacently, Jacobs (1992) argued for the need for diversity, a degree of unorganised city development and specifically a bottom-up approach to maintain a city's favourable properties, for which the right to living should not be a commodity but a human right.
The desire to demonetise the city, focusing on something other than capital, finds its foundation within the heterodox discourse of the city. A heterodoxy can be described as
15 deviating from an acknowledged or traditional form, therefore being considered
unconventional. This deviation from the dominant norm generally occurs out of discontent, which, in the contemporary neoliberal landscape in Amsterdam, is a response to the greed for profit and, consequently, the exclusion and homogenisation of its residents and other related ramifications (Baillie et al. 2013). Therefore, emerging from this discontent is a critical way of thinking about the dominant norms and values. Consequently, the ability arises to look beyond what is 'common sense' (Baillie et al. 2013).
Departing and counteracting the dominant paradigms and school of thought, which is integrated within the Dutch citizenry, is not only about the essence of the movement itself but more about the resistance towards the desired docility that it commands through its
institutions (Baillie et al. 2013). Peter describes this as 'letting go of all things that are actually kind of normal in society'. Baillie (2013) argues that these transformations in mindset can lead to a shift in personal identity, the activities we undertake and the reason behind our actions. Capital, a currency deemed of high importance within the 'common sense', is less valued within the counterculture, in which Frankie argues for focusing on the degree of happiness or humanitarian action as an indicator of well-being.
Groups of people in the city of Amsterdam have shown that there are alternative forms of organising life in such a way that it becomes a fertile ground for innovation,
enhancing the cultural, social, and ecological landscape in the Netherlands (VPRO 2019). By creating parts of the city with a high degree of diversity in people and activities, cross-
pollination for ideas and ideologies can occur. The movement's ideology is not bound to a place or space. Still, it exists in the form of a network of ideas and opinions that can be considered a rhizomatic assemblage of a heterodox culture (Deleuze and Guattari 1980).
Thus, while it is vital to create spaces within the city where this critical noise and
counterculture can develop, it is argued that it contains a more profound movement that goes beyond the materiality of the cause. It manifests in the process of rethinking how the city should provide housing to all while belonging to the people and not the state or the market (ADEV 2021).
The 1960s in The Netherlands was the offset decade for large-scale squatting in Amsterdam and other big cities. This movement gained only more popularity when increasingly more
16 people sought housing in the urban areas throughout the 70s and 80s. In the 80s, the squatting movement also gained an anarchist mentality, reaching a point where the squatters and state were up against each other, resulting in riots and an unmet degree of violence by the police and military forces who were on the opposite side of the squatters (Sterling 2010). The act of squatting entails the occupation of vacant buildings while doing so without permission or payment from or to the owner of the property. This movement got its rooting in the squatting statute of 1914 that states that if a person could prove occupation by sufficing a household, namely a chair, table, and bed, they have the right to occupy space without holding legal privileges. Additionally, according to the Housing Act of 1901, renters, homeowners, or squatters are within their rights when refusing entrance to police or landlords until they have obtained a court order for eviction, which is a lengthy and costly process (Delgado 2012).
Squatting is often seen as a goal on its own; however, it simultaneously acts as an effective and public form of protesting the housing crisis, gentrification, and vacancy of buildings. The movement in the 1980s accomplished that the housing crisis was transformed from an unconsidered point toward a top priority on the political agenda, therefore tackling the housing shortage (Vice 2022). The squatting movement has made it its mission to actively withdraw these vacant real estate investments from the free market, liberating the space and giving it a new purpose and meaning (ADEV 2021). This is arguably a form of democratising the living and users' space that should belong to everyone by forcing a shift from private property to a public civil society (Amsterdam Alternative 2022b).
Now, decades after the previous century's housing crisis, Amsterdam is again
confronted with a housing shortage and exorbitant property prices, forcing people to leave the city or find other solutions. However, since 2010, the Dutch government has passed the non- squatting law, making squatting illegal and putting them at risk of becoming arrested and incarcerated for their activism (Vice 2022). Regardless of the illegalisation of squatting, the movement continues, fuelling activism under a new generation now that the housing crisis is tightening again. The movement is broad and deep, gaining sympathy on multiple sides of society, support from counterculture platforms, old squatters, and even parts of the
bourgeoisie, who increasingly realise that residency is a human right, and not only a privilege for the rich (Schmetz and Draaisma 2022). However, a large part of society is against the act of squatting, and that is what the counterculture stands for.
17 Squatting is one of the scarce methods in resisting the dominant norm and discourse.
This act of civil disobedience creates the opportunity and opens space for gathering like- minded people and collective resistance (Heyblom 2022). Thus, while squatting is not a permanent solution, Mick argues that it does aid in creating space for creative, grass-root and bottom-up developments. Therefore, squatting creates a form in embodied space in which the movement's idealism can be manifested, free, if only for a short while, from the domination of the neoliberal landscape and the prevailing norms and values:
I have always loved about the squatters' movement is that you manage everything yourself, everything, and if you cannot be yourself, there is a whole bunch of people who can show you how you have to do that or help you; I know a lot, without subsidy, without everything' (Morgan, March 2nd, 2022).
Morgan describes an interrelation between the counterculture instituted by the squatting movement, and the independence from the observance culture of neoliberalism, resulting in a freedom to undertake whatever and whenever she likes. Initiatives fighting for this
independence, believing in this freedom for all residents of Amsterdam, aiming for a city that belongs to its residents and therefore to save the city from becoming a complete hollow casing of empty buildings within a homogenous sociological landscape (Vice 2022). Hence, the desire is not necessarily to revoke the law that makes squatting illegal but for a political landscape to enable a liveable city for all Amsterdammers (Heyblom 2022).
This collective fighting spirit is a requirement for the durability of a squat,
considering the time and energy-consuming endeavours needed for its continuation, such as restoration, upgrading and protection of the property. The mentality of the movement evolves around execution and momentum; therefore, forces are often combined between groups, initiating action camps, yielding quick and sometimes lasting results. The ADM terrain, the old residency of the community De Verademing, originated in this exact manner, in which people of both Groenoord and the Silo joined forces, resulting in a squat of 21 years. This collective undertaking develops a form of cultural relativism within a group that develops accustomed, freely defined yet unarticulated customs. Over the years, these communities have space for social, non-profit creative functions such as art galleries, movie theatres, health facilities, food and drink facilities and workshop spaces (Delgado 2012). Therefore,
18 the city benefits from awakening urban areas that are generally abandoned and unwanted parts of the city through the presence of a free dwelling community (Lefebvre 2003).
A counterculture can be defined as a set of norms and values that oppose the dominant
standards arising from the sociological and political landscape. In this case, and for this thesis precisely, the counterculture discussed is opposing the cultural traits of neoliberalism and thus the focus on capital and related concepts. Therefore, on the counter side of neoliberalism is a movement that attaches importance to other principles of worth than capital and sets out a path that holds different norms and values. These alternative norms revolve, according to Owen, about letting go of all the conditions that the dominant society deems 'normal' by challenging and questioning the status quo. The term and concept of counterculture slightly overlap with that of heterodoxy. However, for this thesis, heterodoxy is used for thoughts and minor enactments alternating from the dominant discourse. In contrast, counterculture is used for the active movement in which people actively go against the dominant neoliberal
landscape by squatting, free spaces, or the production of other critical sounds.
There is a need for spaces where people can experiment; as an addition to the dominant society, there is a form of fractiousness in the landscape of regulation and rules.
However, due to the commercialisation, pressure on space and the high value of every square meter in the city, everything becomes unreasonably priced and overregulated (Vice 2022).
This need for experimentation is, according to Peter, a deeply rooted desire within people and the movement to continue the quest for ways to gain the space for exploration, creativity, and alternative developments. This desire seeks to counteract the repressive governmental policy that prevents the residents of Amsterdam from shaping their liberal environment (Amsterdam Alternative 2022a). However also, the political environment becomes more and more
concerned with the city's character and properties, fearing the loss of its inspirational
reputation, and therefore aiming at a higher level for the same thematic, namely the creative, open, and experimental city for which Amsterdam is appreciated by its users (Amsterdam Alternative 2022a).
Along these lines, the municipality of Amsterdam has decided that it is desirably to keep a counterculture and sound within the city. Expedition Free Space, a missionary from the municipality of Amsterdam, is a team that focuses on creating free space within the city
19 in which collectives can develop and reiterate the creativeness, openness, and experimental properties that Amsterdam craves. However, a municipal team that tries to facilitate free spaces is somewhat paradoxical. Consequently, the concern raised during a discussion panel of Amsterdam Alternative (2022a) raises the concern of whether the desired freedom is a possibility in the first place.
What is a free space, and who is it for? Moreover, what does freedom mean as long as we live under capitalism, under the state, patriarchy and freedom for whom?
This dichotomy is present throughout the association between the municipality and De Verademing. Yet, this collaboration seems to be a requirement for a sustainable movement of democratisation and the creation of free spaces.
Due to their voluntary nature and embeddedness in counterculture and self-reliance, free places are places of multivarious values in terms of social, political, environmental, and psychological developments for both the city and its residents. The different locations of free spaces create a network of connections across and between cities, where all types of activism, counterculture, development and freedom can occur (Space of Urgency 2022). Therefore, the free spaces, and the network, are advantageous centres for creativity, in which governmental institutions do not have the same importance as outside of the free spaces. Consequently, free spaces can manifest a critical sound adding to a city's diversity of cultural and social
landscapes. When the dominance of monetary value is increasing, the counterculture and its critical noise are needed to keep the city versatile and prevent it from becoming a commodity (Vrijplaatsenakkoord 2019). Along these lines, the lack of value placed on capital
accumulation within the counterculture is a valuable contradiction here. It is even argued by Charlotte and other residents of De Verademing that the price tag that capital puts on life blocks creativity, therefore decreasing the intellectual and natural value of a person's life.
The lack of focus on monetary value is the lack of rules, which leads to a degree of freedom and interlinked autonomy, earlier described by the municipality as desirably for Amsterdam. Thus, in line with the idealism of Amsterdam, free spaces create places where you can experiment or manifest something unconventional without the need to earn money with it. The consequential relief of performance pressure, due to the lack of attached monetary value, results in unprecedented freedom to play, enact, experiment and do as
20 desired. Free spaces give back the autonomy of shaping an environment or lifestyle and organizing life without interference from governmental pressures.
The encouragement and support of the municipality give a strange dichotomy in terms of autonomy and accessible spaces for the residents of these communities. However, they would otherwise be even more marginalized and threatened by capitalist developments than they currently are. The attention from governmental institutions for free spaces makes experimentation and urban renewal centralized in city planning and policies to trigger spatial diversity, inclusivity, and sustainable development (Savini and Dembski 2016). However, despite the importance of this newly found focus by the municipality and politicians, for the residents of De Verademing, this is a way of life, a philosophy, and not a development plan which consequently brings differences in importance along. Morgan, who used to be actively involved in the squatting scene, remarks how the squatter's movement was about self-reliance and reliance on like-minded people with whom you chose to undertake a squat. She feels that, in this collaboration with a governmental institution, she is compensating for her degree of autonomy, ideals and way of living. Due to the collaboration, multiple members of De Verademing feel like they are being restricted more than they used to be. Contradictory, De Verademing is described as a local development by local planners, serving as a benchmark for the Expedition Free Space and exemplifying in their eyes as a free space free from
governmental intervention and mediation (Savini and Dembski 2016). Thus, regardless of the necessity for collaboration, there is a wide divergence in conception for both parties.
Interconnections of defiance
Between the squatting scene and that of the self-organisational cultural initiatives is a plethora of similarities in terms of ideology and being part of a more extensive network.
Therefore, there are places with similar pasts, shared values, and a common struggle
throughout the city and The Netherlands, strengthening the devotion and reciprocity towards their purpose and fellow counter-culturists (Jansen et al. 2014). The network of counter culturists can be considered as being liminality while building forth on the foundation of a rhizomatic network:
Liminality is a process of uncertainty and flux that different learners will navigate in different ways and with different successes. Some might, for example, get stuck and
21 unable to move forward, while others will oscillate back and forth between different states of knowing and being (Baillie et al. 2013).
The culture of the counter movement is based on this uncertainty and flux due to their deviance from laws, regulations, and formal institutions, therefore risking eviction.
Simultaneously, the demise of one place in the city may lead to the rise of another
unpredictably and organically, adhering to the rhizomatic principles of asignifying rupture and cartography. Peter described this liminal manifestation as.
Something happens, and then another community crystallises out there, or when it suddenly becomes something or then something just grows there and then it gets cleared and then it becomes this and then you have to start all over again, then you get new animal species, new ideas, different people….
In general, the dominating mindset throughout the network is mutual support for one another, fighting for the continuation of new initiatives, and therefore encouraging and promoting idealism throughout the city. Along this line, it is argued that a house is not the manifestation of a home but that a home is built of ambitions, appreciation, devotion and understanding.
These are characteristics that the free dwellers find more easily within the movement and their chosen families instead of their biological or forced environment (ADM 2019c).
Chapter 2. The value of a mirroring and juxtaposing counterculture
This chapter continues the previously elaborated subjects of counterculture and the
interconnections of defiance that links yet simultaneously separates De Verademing from the neoliberal landscape. Accordingly, it will become apparent how De Verademing functions as a mirroring and juxtaposing entity in relation to the wider landscape of Amsterdam. A
counterculture counteracts, as described previously, the dominant society yet remains imbedded within the same landscape. Therefore, forming a separate world within a world, a concept corresponding strongly with the theory of heterotopia. The resemblances between theory and reality will be demonstrated within this chapter, using the six principles of heterotopia and the data collected in the fieldwork (Foucault, 1986).
Heterotopia is defined as places that 'are formed in the very founding of society—something like counter-sites, a kind of effectively enacted utopia in which the real sites are
simultaneously represented, contested, and inverted. Places of this kind are outside of all places, even though it may be possible to indicate their location in reality' (Foucault 1986: 3).
23 Therefore, the concept of heterotopia enables the discussion of a self-organisational cultural initiative to be more in-depth than merely a critical noise.
Heterotopias are worlds within worlds, as De Verademing is within Amsterdam, that mirror and challenge what is outside of it. The heterotopia can be found across cultures and is identified based on six criteria. 1) In the heterotopia of deviation, norms of behaviour are suspended, challenging the dominant discourse, and enabling its users to exercise behaviour exterior to this norm. 2) Heterotopias have a determined function based on their reflective relation with the dominant society in which they exist. Consequently, shifts in this dominant society can lead to the emplacement or displacement of heterotopias from the city center, where the self-organisational cultural initiatives originated in the previous decades, to the outside of the city due to gentrification and regulations. 3) The juxtaposition of several natural phenomena that would otherwise have been incompatible, but through the self- organisational cultural initiatives' inclusivity and open-mindedness, are brought together in a heterotopic space. 4) Heterotopias exist of slices of time that work differently than traditional time and are therefore essentially free from time- and performance pressure. Consequently, heterotopias only work when their users break their traditional sense of time. 5) Heterotopias have a system of opening and closing and are therefore not accessible to the mainstream masses but
require permission to enter, whether with a ticket, a gesture or ritual. 6) Heterotopias intensify the already present nature of an ideology when deviating from a dominant culture (Knight 2016: Sajjad and Perveen 2019).
Suspended Norms & Behaviours
The first principles of a heterotopia are the suspension of norms and behaviours, which are present in every cultural context. Therefore, every sociological environment produces heterotopias which deviate from dominant norms and behaviours are dominant occur. This discourse of deviation is to be upheld and sustained by the users of heterotopia and can therefore not exist individually within the dominant society (Foucault 1984).
This [dominant] society gives an image, but there are many images; you do not have to look at everything from a certain point of view. I think that is […] that you pass it on and that you say, that is a kind of plus point because for the rest, people think very
24 much in a specific pattern and the consciousness of people…. it may well be
expanded, society also makes people's consciousness blunter, and that has always been the case, that it had to be in specific patterns and you [can] break that (Peter, February 8th, 2022).
De Verademing thus offers a way of life which is no longer separable once fused with a person's being. Frankie explains how she first grew within the ADM, with the society and the space. She currently reiterates this process with De Verademing, therefore, no longer being able to function according to the 'common sense' of the dominant society (VPRO 2022).
Whereas Amsterdam has always brandished to the outer world that it is a city of alternative and progressive tolerance, employing characteristics of openness, approachability and the space to experiment, these properties can mainly flourish in heterotopic places like De Slibvelden. In contrast, the rest of the city, especially the centre, no longer holds these sensations (VPRO 2022).
One of the suspended and outside of the heterotopia dominant norm is that of
monetary accumulation, desire for a surplus and the need to receive monetary compensation for performed labour. Therefore, the environment of De Verademing becomes a meeting ground free from capital pressure for people with skill, passion, and the desire to take the initiative, leading to collaborations that would otherwise not have occurred (2015c).
Consequently, Frankie argues for the release of monetary value:
My approach is more like, why compare it all with economic value? I get it, but it should take some sort of humanity or happiness as the norm and set it against it. That would be my approach.
Additionally, living on De Verademing also means dedication, like Owen spending most of his free time on the future of De Verademing and the broader project without receiving monetary or direct reimbursement. In return, he gets the freedom to shape his living area and community, offering more freedom than money ever could (Amsterdam Alternative 2022a).
Along this line, survival and independence are strongly present ambitions amongst the residents of De Verademing. It is, therefore, not the facilitation of a space with which the survival and continuation of the community stands or falls, but the municipal policy. Because
25 regardless of their suspended norms and behaviours within the heterotopia, they remain part of the broader and monetary-focused landscape and therefore are influenced by the
developments happening (ADM 2018d).
Displacement & Emplacement
The second principle of a heterotopia evolves around the emanation of a function of the heterotopia. This function is a reaction to developments in the sociological or political landscape in which it is embedded. Therefore, each heterotopia can exist with a different meaning and form of organisation depending on its deviating. The heterotopia is, therefore, also linked to the time in which it exists, having a different relation and degree of importance throughout time, being emplaced or displaced from the point of focus for the dominant society (Foucault 1984; Jansen et al. 2014). Along this line, heterotopias embody a space in which uncertainty and flux navigate its users, stretching out and overlapping with different heterotopias and territories, sometimes even merging into one another. Considering it is a response to sociological developments within society, the core of the deviant space is temporarily and can become dismantled again when shifting towards new spaces, linked to the deterritorialization concept of Deleuze & Guattari (1987, cited in Baillie et al. 2013).
De Verademing, however, is built on the intangible heritage of the old ADM. The community is predetermined to continue this legacy, transforming it into an open
experimental space in collaboration with the Expedition Free Space (ADM 2018a). After the first displacement and eviction of the old residence, the community was placed on a different part of the city's periphery, continuing the tradition of being the frayed edges of Amsterdam.
The relation to the dominant society, also because the displacement and rebuilding process is separated by two decades, has changed, which is elaborated upon in Fout! Verwijzingsbron niet gevonden.. Along this line, the displacement due to eviction of the old terrain resulted in many adverse developments. Amongst them is the destruction of most physical
manifestations of the community, collapsing and scattering of a large part of the community.
However, they did flourish and contributed to the broader city of Amsterdam from their new geographical location.
26 The third principle of Foucault's Heterotopia (1984) is the capability to juxtapose several spaces that are otherwise incompatible into one non-hegemonic real space. De Verademing is a collection of these otherwise incompatible places, sociological discourses and people who would most likely not be functioning within a different context or setting. While
simultaneously enabling the unique and incomparable social conditions through this property of juxtaposition. Charlotte describes this as a group of free dwellers with problems and qualities. However, due to the shared communal mentality of auto-didact, inclusivity and discourse of creativity, it develops into a phenomenon of solidarity and community-being.
The juxtaposition of counter-culturists, creative initiatives and potential collaborations will expand on the other terrain of De Verademing, 't Groene Veld, on which diversity and alternative initiatives are the focus. Owen describes the development as a focus placed on a colourful mix of users and tenants, regardless of their actual activities, if they contribute to the development of the De Slibvelden and its programming through their activities, exposure, and appearance. However, idealistically, the space is used for craftmanship that does not quickly get a place anywhere else in the city:
[There is] a slight preference for craft professions, so glass blowing, coppersmith, ceramics, welding and grinding, we all already have that, bronze caster… we hope to be able to do that (Owen, February 12th, 2022).
Effectively, the juxtaposition to which De Verademing offers space will directly influence and revitalise the surrounding neighbourhoods in Amsterdam North and the broader
environment of Amsterdam. Along this line, Owen explains how not all manifestations will impact Amsterdam as widely as others. Still, all initiatives will have the comparable and essential characteristics of abrasiveness, rebelliousness, stubbornness, challenging and sometimes a bit tough, therefore carrying the undertone of what the counterculture is valued for most by the municipality.
The most adjacent neighbourhood in Amsterdam North is already well involved in developing 't Groene Veld, therefore including the local inhabitants in the diverse collection of the counterculture. The ambition of creating an accessible environment for everyone includes people willing to counteract the dominant norm and those who merely seek an alternative form of entertainment and engagement without actively having to initiate that on
27 their own (Space of Urgency 2022). Along this line, the discussion at Amsterdam Alternative regarding the impossible collaboration between the bourgeoisie and the counterculture becomes effectively disenchanted. This is because De Verademing is already involved in such a collaboration, therefore embodying the possibility of a juxtaposition of people (Amsterdam Alternative 2022). One commonly given remark is: 'we are a naturally formed tribe', based on the common interest and mutual desire for preservation in a kinship setting (ADM 2018c). Even though this tribe has not always been accepted by the dominant norms and values of society, they found ways to build bridges between the two discourses.
The fourth principle of the heterotopia is the affiliation between space and time, in which the total capacity of a heterotopic place is flourishing when people break with their traditional time. Through the accumulation of time, heterotopias have the ideal circumstances to collect all sorts of eternal time, eras, idealisms, and preferences in one place, creating a holistic environment of conjunctures that would be destroyed through time itself if placed outside of the heterotopia. Simultaneously, a heterotopia can also be a place for impermanence, as described by Foucault, through applying time in its most fluid and perishable state, like a festival (Foucault 1984).
The accumulation of time on De Verademing comes from its alternative relation or rather independence from monetary values, resulting in forms of creativity and
experimentation that would not be manageable external to De Slibvelden, considering the pressure that both money and time hold outside of this heterotopia (Fisher 2021). Hence, something practical as safety fencing around the water basins on the terrain is decorated by a resident doing free-hand welding. Random sculptures are built to decorate the terrain and the medicinal garden, and its harvest requires much time, whereas things could be bought in stores more quickly.
Freedom and timelessness are cultural characteristics that enable the collection of materials, creative developments, and alternative manifestations of free dwellers. The description given by the residents of De Verademing is that it is a life-laboratory, in which improvisation with both time and money, and thus the interrelation between the two aspects, is central, excluding margins and an overregulated society (ADM 2018f). Both Mick and Peter explain how this timelessness creates a different environment in which an alternative
28 train of thought can occur, not born out of idealism or popularity. Still, a pure necessity to be creative with resources to avoid the need for capital. Simultaneously, this timelessness can make things beautiful, giving them space to develop, manifest, and crystalise into something unique, entirely free from pressure.
This collection of time, acquired by the break with traditional time, simultaneously creates a landscape for perishability in which the culture of De Verademing becomes concentrated and amplified. Through the temporality of a festival in which the scope of timelessness becomes extended to a broader audience, magnifying the collection of
divergence only existing in that moment and place. These different conjunctions of time, both collective and transient, lead to different manifestations with a joint memorandum, taking the time and momentum to appreciate and value the events and occurrences happening,
regardless of whether this is an indefinite collection of people, ideas and philosophies, or a temporal and diverse circle of individuals who, for a moment, form a casual togetherness in the shape of festivals, workshops, and other shared moments.
Open & Closing
The fifth principle is the degree of access to a heterotopia, which generally is not
automatically closed or open. Still, it often does require a means of passage, like a ticket, gesture, or ritual. This permission for the passage for De Verademing revolves around a state of mind aligned with the ideology of the counterculture and good intentions (Foucault 1986;
Lofland 1998). Along this line, and especially on De Slibvelden, in comparison to the ADM terrain, everyone can enter the terrain physically, giving the appearance of continuing accessibility. However, this openness could be considered an illusion on other levels than physicality. In those connections, thinking patterns and intentions are important to gain complete and total access to the discourse of the free dwellers of De Verademing.
Frankie recognises the opening and closing of their living terrain daily, and especially the desire to be able to close the terrain physically like the ADM. This is also recognised as a paradox and contradiction to some of the ideals of their culture in which radical inclusivity is central. However, during the fieldwork, on multiple occasions, the terrain was entered
without consent or warning by law enforcement, police, firefighters and strangers that had no business or cause for being there at that specific time. While these law enforcers are not
29 officially transgressing any property constitution, it feels to the community like constant monitoring. Therefore, since opening and closing is a recognisable and desired phenomenon amongst the residents, the autonomy in this heterotopic principle has decreased significantly since the eviction of the ADM terrain and the engagement with the Expedition Free Space.
However, each resident has the autonomy to open and close their personal, both physical and mental, environment off to fellow residents and outsiders. This can be done by withdrawing from their residence or, in the case of the data collection for this thesis, by not engaging actively. On the other hand, if the opening of the personal space is desired, one can easily find one or more fellow community members who are joyous to engage. Charlotte explains this as follows: 'you could create your world in there, and if you felt comfortable in it, you could stay there, and if you had people you did not like at all, then you did not have to see them at all…'. The complete opening of the terrain happens with festivals and other events, inviting people from outside the community to become part of their world, experiences actively and thinking patterns for a short period (VPRO 2022). According to Anna, it is striking how many people seek this engagement during festivals, theatre shows, workshops and communal garden days.
Intensification of essence
The sixth and last principle of the heterotopia is that all the prior mentioned principles lead to the ideal circumstances in which intensification of a culture's essence can occur. The function of this intensification is to develop a space that manifests in reaction to another extreme. This is the case for De Verademing, acting as compensation for a highly structured reality, upon which the heterotopia creates a well-functioning alternative (Foucault 1984). This alternative, therefore, takes the form of an unstructured environment with a low degree of rules.
Counteracting the highly regulated structure of the environment outside of the heterotopia is the ability of people to 'hang out in the fog'. This entails dealing with uncertainty and
vagueness upon which creativity, idealism and intensified nature are more likely to flourish in sporadic environments, leaving room for blurred encounters and unexpected elements (Baillie et al. 2013).
The residents describe the encounters happening on De Slibvelden as a cacophony of craziness and frivolity, revolving around a mixture of robotics, nature, art, theatre, music, technology, and experimentation crystallisation of all things combined (VPRO 2022).
Craftmanship and the practice of auto-didact are centralised within the community, exploring