Abstract

This article details the political contestations of refugee occupiers after they were violently evicted from their home, colloquially called Piazza Indipendenza. Participant observation as a friend of the Eritrean refugees who occupied Piazza Indipendenza during the time of their eviction brought to light the way refugee occupiers both demand rights to subsidized housing and care for each other. Refugees confront the discriminatory distribution of integration resources in Italy by establishing autonomous structures, like housing occupations of abandoned buildings, to both approximate their entitlement to subsidized housing and assert their rights. For many Eritrean refugee occupiers in Rome, it is the Habesha community itself that provides the most reliable form of care, shelter, and protection, such that migrant-occupied housing projects (squats) act as sites of sanctuary. Sanctuary squats act as shelters from which to contest repressive governmental policies.

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