The idea for this project grew from the preoccupation with settlements that are officially regarded as unplanned or informal. Since 2008 several workshops, guided tours, meetings and interviews titled „Self Made City/Self Made Urbanity“ were organized by urbanXchange in Rome’s informal settlements. These territories and their development were approached in collaboration with its inhabitants and local self-governmental associations. Artists, theorists and activists from Rome and abroad were invited to exchange their different perceptions and methods. The working group SMU-Research was looking for new approaches to a complex urban reality in times of transition and to explore repressed aspects of the city’s and of national history. It was just when our first workshop started that the right wing party Alleanza Nazionale had won the communal elections in the areas we focused on, which were formerly known as Rome’s „red belt“. These days also a first census was held in the informal but so far condoned Roma camps, a premonition of the evictions and resettlements that began in February 2010.
A closer look at the conflicts on location showed that the urban fabric was much more complex than we had assumed. Different kinds and phases of migration had to be taken in consideration: national, international, internal European Union, and cyclic migration. Roma from Germany and France had settled at the margins of Rome in the 1980s. At the same time migrants from southern Italy had build – with the money they had earned in Switzerland and Germany – their houses and gradually their roads and squares by themselves. Furthermore a comparative description of the various forms of informality is problematic, because the access to justice and civil rights is very different for the stakeholders according to their nationality, their legal status as refugees or if they lack any documents.