Saturday, 25 October 2008

Squat's in a name, part 2

The kitchen above is of another squat that has just opened in London Fields, in a boarded-up school caretaker's house. All its utilities were intact upon opening, no fiddling with meters or wires required. Lucky them.

The way "squat" is described by other languages and cultures also offers another way of viewing things. In our search for a name to call our squat, here is a brief look at what other countries call a "squat".

First up, Ding zhe hu. Or, Nailed Down House, which it is Chinese for.

It literally translates into "House resisting demolition". The usual practice of demolishing homes in urban China is to take out one entire street at a time. Residents will usually stay in their homes until the very last minute before being moved to their new premises, which means that no space ever goes uninhabited.

Squatting in Berlin is known as "instandbesetzen", a portmanteau of "instandsetzen" (ie. renovating) and "besetzen" (ie. occupying).

In Mexico, squatters are known as "paracaidistas", which means 'paratroopers' because they "drop" themselves mostly onto unoccupied land.

The following is taken from a web article by Hari Srinivas entitled "Defining Squatter Settlements":
"Some of the local/colloquial names for squatter settlements (often also used for slum settlements)

Ranchos = Venezuela
Callampas, Campamentos = Chile
Favelas = Brazil
Barriadas = Peru
Villas Misarias = Argentina
Colonias Letarias = Mexico
Barong-Barong = Philippines
Kevettits = Burma
Gecekondu = Turkey
Bastee, Juggi-johmpri = India"
Our own potential name for the squat is, Now. Given the finite nature of where we are, it feels apt, if a bit trite, and maybe even a bit dull.