Social centers in Europe and North America

The infoshop is not the revolutionLast December I took part in a discussion of the politics of social centres in Seomra Spraoi in Dublin, I've now put the audio of that meeting online.  I talked about the places I visited while touring North America, other talked of particular experiences of social centers in Glasgow, Spain and Italy.

The term 'social centre' is not actually used as far as I can tell in North America which in the context of that discussion was quite useful as it enabled me to talk about the different sorts of places I had visited (from punk houses to neighboorhood centers) rather than worry as to what the correct term might be.  It's come into use in Ireland because of the relatively high level of contact with such spaces in Italy and Spain where they tend to be squats (or legalised squats) of largish industrial premises.  The audio of the discussion has been posted to as a 29mb mp3 file.

In the Irish context this has meant the search for a way to replicate that experiencd despite the harsh anti-squatting laws and the high rents of the celtic tiger.  On paper this could look like an impossible task but a collective under the name of Seomra Spraoi has made a very good job of it over a number of years now despite very significant police harrassment and eventual closure of the various premises they have rented for the purposes.  They are currently on their fourth such space and in the last week have come under sustained pressure from both the secret police and their uniformed counterparts.  This appears to have come from hosting a Shell to Sea meeting (see this blog entry) but whether or not this was the immediate cause its obvious that any such space operating in Ireland would have to deal with this sort of harassment if it is serving a politically useful function.

I've been very impressed with the way the various people who have worked as Seomra Spraoi have developed and improved the idea over the years.  Back in the 90's I was involved in a very dysfunctional collectivised bookshop called the Garden of Delight which although it was sometimes fun has effectively burnt me out of any sort of direct involvement in such projects. GoD did everything in the wrong way and failed to deal with any of the problems you inevitably face.  Strangely enough apart from one armed raid by the political police when a banner was hung off the building during an EU summit we didn't have problems with the Gardai.  They probably knew enough about how dysfunctional it was to decide it was more amusing to leave us to collapse under the weight of our own accumulated problems.

WORDS Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )


The role of social centres in radical politics by Andrew Flood on Mixcloud



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