Creating political subjects: Collective knowledge and action to enact housing rights in Spain

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© Oxford University Press and Community Development Journal. 2017. Building on eleven months of engaged research with the Platform for Mortgage-Affected People (PAH) in the Barcelona metropolitan region and involvement in the movement post-2014 as an activist, this paper considers the processes through which people facing foreclosure and eviction become political subjects. Community development, in this context, is seen as a transformative, bottom-up process, unfolding as PAH members collectively push institutional housing-related boundaries by both producing and enacting learned political practices 'from below'. A Rancierian framing of political subjectivation is used and extended to understand how the PAH ruptures indebted subjectivities and assistentialist approaches to mortgage problems, and the challenges such processes face. Upon a brief contextualization of Spain's 1997-2007 housing boom, plus the PAH's antecedents and emergence in the post- 2008 crisis period, I argue that collective advising assemblies and actions are co-constitutive spaces where processes of political subjectivation are generated and enacted. Collective advising assemblies are spaces where people unable to pay their mortgage begin to disidentify with their position in the dominant economic and political configuration and begin to shed their guilt, shame and fear. This process flows through and feeds into actions like blocking evictions, occupying empty bankowned housing or banks, spaces to enact one's disidentification with the existing order and materialize new ways of acting and being. Concluding thoughts identify what the experience of the PAH means for understanding political subjectivation and community development in the 21st century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-435
JournalCommunity Development Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017

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