World Neoliberalism as Rebellion From Below?: British Squatters and the Global Interpretation of Poverty, 1946–1974

Abstract: This article considers connections between British anarchist theorists of squatting who emerged from the postwar housing crisis and World Bank experiments with titling squatters in the third world. It demonstrates that theorists of squatting such as Colin Ward and John F. C. Turner advocated for the ingenuity and intention of squatters in ways that resonated later with free-market thinkers, even while London’s squatters pushed an extended right to occupation that required the expansion of the state. By the 1970s, while British students squatted in protest of the failure of the state to provide adequate housing for all, British development theorists asserted that squatting was proof that the state was no longer needed. While the critique of the state appealed to free-market thinkers at the World Bank, the final contribution of squatters and squatting advocates consists in their work to broaden the categories of labor recognized by law.

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