Dispossession and Dissent
Immigrants and the Struggle for Housing in Madrid
Sophie L. Gonick


Contents and Abstracts
1 Immigration, Homeownership, and Activism
chapter abstract

The opening chapter presents the problem of immigrant homeownership, which led to dispossession, in Madrid. A discussion of the early 2000s confluence of immigration, urbanization, and credit opportunities is followed by analysis of several key literatures: immigrant homeownership, homeownership and subjectification, and homeownership's activisms. The chapter concludes by introducing the methodological framework for the book, with attention to methods of ethnography and archival research.

2 Mortgaged Inclusion
chapter abstract

This chapter charts how homeownership became a means of integration for immigrants during Madrid's boom, examining immigrant housing struggles upon arrival, and the ways in which homeownership provided a solution to a host of problems associated with settlement. An analysis of state integration discourse reveals how it encouraged immigrant homeownership. Finally, looking at the ways in which banking and real estate firms targeted immigrant clients reveals a tension between the immigrant as social vs. economic subject and how emphasis on the latter category prized immigrant investment in the built environment above other forms of economic activity. This examination demonstrates how homeownership became a de facto integration policy during the boom.

3 Homeownership's Urbanism
chapter abstract

This chapter charts the emergence and consolidation of homeownership as a key device for urbanization in Madrid. Analysis of homeownership's emergence under Franco reveals how it became an engine for the urban economy during autarky. As such, it inflects extant historiographical debates on the Spanish political economy of development. Homeownership became central to the city's growth across the twentieth century, fueling speculative urbanization that sought to make Madrid competitive within a global marketplace of cities. This model of urban development, reliant on homeownership for a host of ends, reached its apogee at the millennium, when the deregulation of land allowed for speculative urbanization through homeownership. The chapter ends by demonstrating how homeownership produced processes of urban dispossession.

4 Citizen Homeowner
chapter abstract

Madrid's new model of housing tenure had to be sold to the urban populace. Thus this chapter charts the emergence of the figure of the homeowner during the Franco regime. It reveals how the homeowner became co-terminus with the good subject through ideological and political consolidation, even while that role was out of reach for many urban dwellers. It then reveals how homeownership became necessary within a system of urban citizenship during the democratic and European era. It considers how homeownership and, by extension, the mortgage mediated gendered relations, inequities in the labor market, and consumption opportunities within millennial Madrid. Homeownership redressed the long absence of Fordist models of employment and consumption, even while it was only possible through the liberalization of credit and debt. The chapter concludes by examining macroeconomic data that shows how debt financed the growth of household wealth.

5 Debt Sentences
chapter abstract

When the economy collapsed at the end of the 2000s, many immigrant and native homeowners suddenly confronted the specter of foreclosure and eviction. Homeownership, once promising wealth and opportunity, became an engine of dispossession. This chapter explores the lived experiences of dispossession, with attention to the concept of civil death, a term many people use to describe their circumstances. This category implicates isolation, shame, and violence, and has differential impacts on women and immigrants. Ethnographic and sociospatial analysis reveals how civil death was exacerbated by the geography of immigrant homeownership. Rather than further inclusion, home purchases meant immigrants were tied to spaces of urban abandonment and forced to be increasingly mobile. Thus homeownership fueled multiple forms of urban exclusion.

6 Immigrant Capital
chapter abstract

This chapter traces legacies of migration and Indigenous activism to argue they produced dissent to the homeownership model. First it examines the sophisticated political imaginaries and geographic thinking fostered through processes of immigration and the kinds of transnational relations of people, place, and space they produce. Examining immigrant experiences reveals how they engendered alternative understandings of crisis and dispossession. Indigenous activism had a role in sparking Andean dissent, revealed through an oral history with a key community figure. Finally, community ties allowed first for the spread of credit, then financial ruin and finally dissent. In so doing, the chapter uncovers the first immigrant efforts against housing dispossession.

7 Waking the Civil Dead
chapter abstract

This chapter explores how immigrant efforts converged with other housing struggles to produce the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH—Platform for people affected by mortgages) Madrid. It uses ethnographic participant observation to explore sharing and solidarity practices within the collective. It then explores the tactics of the broader PAH collective to analyze how they combine various imaginations: radical, economic, legislative, and legal. This confluence of tactics allowed for a broad public to take part, which helped build the movement and foster collaboration between diverse groups of people. It considers how certain repertoires are influenced by the legacy of Indigenous struggles, particularly in regard to the PAH's legal tactics. The chapter concludes by considering new immigrant practices of squatting under the label "recuperation," to reveal how the PAH Madrid and many of the dispossessed reimagine dwelling in and producing the city against the edicts of capitalism and austerity.

8 Imagining Urban Futures in the Age of Uncertainty
chapter abstract

The concluding chapter traces what has happened in Madrid since the events portrayed in the book. It considers the lessons of this account for scholarship on immigration and cities, with emphasis on the need to place housing struggles—both to find shelter and to remake the terms of dominant systems of habitation—at the center of our analyses of immigration and the city. Immigrants played a potent role within housing movements, and their presence broadens the terms of debate while also seeking to undo the capitalist logics of propertied urbanism. It is necessary to turn to such movements and their imaginaries in order to reimagine a more egalitarian city following the pandemic crisis.