ADM in newspaper Het Parool: "The closure of ADM and the rest of the squats is the death of Amsterdam." (September 4th. 2018)

Professor Dimitris Dalakoglou wrote an article to the Dutch newspaper "Het Parool", in support of the ADM and other free-spaces.

This is the original (non-edited article):

"As a Professor at VU who holds a Chair with an emphasis on infrastructures and urban
politics I have been studying cities all around the world for almost two decades now and as a
member of the editorial board of one of the most prominent academic journals in urban
studies: ‘City', I have an overview of the ongoing urban processes in many more places than
the ones that my own studies take me.


I have been studying Amsterdam ethnographically since 2015 and I can say that our city is
undergoing a huge transformation over the past two decades which, although we would rather
ignore it, is very much an ongoing process changing the city beyond recognition into a
generic global city that is losing its character, its particularities, and its living cells one after
the other. This process, which includes , phenomena like the occupation of Amsterdam’s
green and open spaces by skyscrapers (e.g. Zuid) or the transformation of our historical
libraries into hotels owned by multinational chains and the closure and repression of squats
like ADM- which are the living history of our city- is leading to the death of Amsterdam.
In Amsterdam, gradually we see the building of developments (e.g. financial district in Zuid,
new housing developments around Amstel station etc.) which for all intents and purposes
could be in any city in the world. These developments share very little (spatially and socially)
with their surroundings. Meanwhile policymakers promote the mass private ownership of
housing and the financialisation of housing and the built environment via the promotion of
private mortgages, thus the housing is more and more exposed to the financial sector's and
big business' manipulations. Gradually, in Amsterdam, low and middle income people, small
independent businesses, independent artists and creators, community organizers, activists and
squatters, ethnic minorities and other social groups who have collectively made Amsterdam
the unique city that it was for more than 50 years, are relocated further and further from the
core of the city. In their place, a homogenous high income, middle class who participate little
and contribute less in the collective life of the city, apart from in specific, mostly commercial
and relatively exclusive enclaves.


Amsterdam's reputation and allure as a progressive city, with an alternative and diverse
everyday life is precisely based on the social activities of all these groups, who are the real
Amsterdam and are now under attack. The social bonds that were created after decades of
conviviality, common existence and daily activities and constituted Amsterdam are being
systematically evicted from the city as Airbnb, real estate brokers, and mortgage officers
control the real estate of the city which has become an empty facade of itself. The irony being
that in the commodification of the buildings that once housed these people and the spirit of
the city the true value of our city is being cleansed and wiped out along with its inhabitants.

Amsterdam North is one of the main battlefields of this ongoing 'war against the real
Amsterdam' and ADM has played a crucial role in comprising this real Amsterdam for many
decades now. The forced closure of ADM will mean the end of a huge spontaneous
community of people who have used the place over all these years and have ADM as their
main site of reference for their social, cultural and political activities that are disseminated in
the entire city giving it one of its last life lines. We saw it already happening in other cases in
Amsterdam where squats were forced out and replaced either by a social vacuum or by
commercial operations leading to the sanitation and pretentiousness of public engagement
that in fact are only exercises in social exclusion and an assassination of diversity.


Amsterdam has for decades organized great parts of its collective life around places like
ADM and their closure means the end of these networks. We all have an obligation to defend
ADM with any means available. Defending ADM is precisely the same as defending our
entire home city from commercialization, real estate manipulation and displacement of its
people. Namely, from its death."

 

Dimitris Dalakoglou,
Professor of Social Anthropology,
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

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Here is the article as it was published in the online version of Het Parool