Call for papers: ‘Vulnerable demons’? Moral Rhetoric and the Criminalisation of Squatting

A workshop at Durham Law School

18 March 2013

Call for Papers

Squatters, as a population, are disproportionately vulnerable: research has shown that they are often homeless, former prison populations, alcohol dependent and with mental health problems.  Yet, from the emergence of the discourse of adverse possession as ‘land theft’ in the Land Registration Act 2002 to the criminalisation of ‘squatting in a residential building’ in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, squatters are increasingly constructed as the source, rather than the victims of, social problems.  The policy strategy of responding to social problems through criminalisation, which resonates from apartheid-era South Africa to the recent London riots, embeds a moral framework which threatens to close off debates about underlying social problems, affordable housing, empty homes, or the stewardship responsibilities of landowners.  This workshop invites contributions which explore the implications of the criminalisation of squatting from theoretical, policy and practice perspectives.  By reflecting on these interfaces from UK and international perspectives, it will consider how the conflation of housing and squatting narratives with a punitive turn in legal, policy and popular discourses, is shaping the moral landscape of property, housing and crime.

The workshop organisers would like to invite proposals for papers that explore the property, housing, and criminal justice/criminological issues surrounding the criminalisation of squatting for theory, policy and practice, including comparative analyses, as well as papers that examine the broader issues signalled by this move from the perspectives of property, housing and crime.  It is our intention to publish a selection of papers, subject to peer-review, in a themed volume.

Organisers: Prof Lorna Fox O’Mahony ( and Dr Robin Hickey (


Deadline for submitting proposals for papers: 14 December 2012 Notification of paper acceptance: 21 December 2012 Deadline for submitting draft papers for circulation: 8 March 2013 Abstracts should be submitted to Lorna Fox O’Mahony and Robin Hickey ( and

Conference Fee: There will be a small attendance fee to cover costs of lunch, refreshments and dinner.  The fee will be waived for speakers presenting papers.


At times when there is only breath between yours

and mine, my legs, your limbs,

where there may be time to eat and feast upon minutes

or miasmas, who knows.

But there are edges of her hands that have not touched,

anything other than her battles and worn velvetine gowns

drenched in blood.

That said, he was clasping his digital anecdote with nothing other than

buckets for feet, which were as cold as iced rivers.

High as the interstellar freeway,

my head collapsed like cotton sheets blown to the ground,

orange eyes saw graph paper skies and

quixotic neon capsules – I flew, not you.

You went somewhere else, apparently,

but I kissed your glass skin

and followed you to sleep.