Acts for Refugees’ Right to the City and Commoning Practices of Care-tizenship in Athens, Mytilene and Thessaloniki

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

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Acts for Refugees’ Right to the City and Commoning Practices of Care-tizenship in Athens, Mytilene and Thessaloniki


  • Charalampos Tsavdaroglou Department of Planning and Regional Development, University of Thessaly, Greece
  • Chrisa Giannopoulou Department of Geography, University of the Aegean, Greece
  • Chryssanthi Petropoulou Department of Geography, University of the Aegean, Greece
  • Ilias Pistikos Department of Geography, University of the Aegean, Greece


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Abstract:  During the recent refugee crisis, numerous solidarity initiatives emerged in Greece and especially in Mytilene, Athens and Thessaloniki. Mytilene is the capital of Lesvos Island and the main entry point in the East Aegean Sea, Athens is the main refugee transit city and Thessaloniki is the biggest city close to the northern borders. After the EU–Turkey Common Statement, the Balkan countries sealed their borders and thousands of refugees found themselves stranded in Greece. The State accommodation policy provides the majority of the refugee population with residency in inappropriate camps which are mainly located in isolated old military bases and abandoned factories. The article contrasts the State-run services to the solidarity acts of “care-tizenship” and commoning practices such as self-organised refugee housing projects, which claim the right to the city and to spatial justice. Specifically, the article is inspired by the Lefebvrian “right to the city,” which embraces the right to housing, education, work, health and challenges the concept of citizen. Echoing Lefebvrian analysis, citizenship is not demarcated by membership in a nation-state, rather, it concerns all the residents of the city. The article discusses the academic literature on critical citizenship studies and especially the so-called “care-tizenship,” meaning the grassroots commoning practices that are based on caring relationships and mutual help for social rights. Following participatory ethnographic research, the main findings highlight that the acts of care-tizenship have opened up new possibilities to challenge State migration policies while reinventing a culture of togetherness and negotiating locals’ and refugees’ multiple class, gender, and religious identities.

Keywords:  care-tizenship; commoning; refugees; right to the city; solidarity

Published:   28 November 2019


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v7i4.2332


© Charalampos Tsavdaroglou, Chrisa Giannopoulou, Chryssanthi Petropoulou, Ilias Pistikos. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.