Cite as: Tsavdaroglou C., Giannopoulou C., Lafazani O., Pistikos I. & C. Petropoulou, 2018, "De(constructing) the refugees’ right to the city: State-run camps versus commoning practices in Athens, Thessaloniki and Mytilene", in III. International Interdisciplinary Conference on Refugee and Forced Immigration Studies Conference Proceedings, Özgür Öztürk DAKAM YAYINLARI, October 2018, İstanbul. ISBN: 978-605-81593-5-8.
A noticeable body of literature since the 1980s has been exploring aspects of social philanthropy, NGOs’ activities and State immigration policies. However, little research is available on how the refugees themselves self-organize,claim the right to the city and enact the production of collective housing common spaces. This paper aims to discuss such issues and contribute to this gap. Following the recent spatial approaches on “commons” and “enclosures” the paper compares and contrasts refugee led solidarity housing commons with State-run refugee camps. According to the critical thinkers of
“autonomy of migration” the focus has to be shifted from the apparatuses of control to the multiple and diverse ways in which migration responds to, operates independently from, and in turn shapes those apparatuses and their corresponding institutions and practices. Moreover the paper is inspired by the Lefebvrian “right to the city” which embodies the rights to housing, work, education, health and culture and challenges the notion of the citizen. In Lefebvrian thought, citizenship is not defined by membership in the nation-state, but is based on membership in inhabitance. Consequently the newcomers’ mobile commons contest State immigration policies and claim spatial justice. The paper focuses empirically on Greece, which is situated at the epicentre of the refugee crisis, and in Athens, Thessaloniki and Mytilene in particular. Mytilene is the capital of Lesvos Island i.e. the main refugee entrance point in the East, close to the Turkish coastline. Athens is the capital of Greece where more than ten State-run camps in the outskirts of the city and several refugee squatted buildings in the center of the city establish a dialectic contrast. Finally, Thessaloniki was the city with the highest ratio of refugees per residents across the EU during 2016. For the purposes of the paper social data were collected from both qualitative and quantitative processes; a methodological tool, which is applied for the determination of these dynamic characteristics approved by participatory research, ethnographic analysis, semi-structured interviews, discourse analysis and collection of articles of local press and web pages.