Skip to main content
Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Tina Carlisi, Individualized Program

Intimacies: A Feminist Exploration of Squatting Utopias Through Field Research and Art Practice

Tuesday, August 9, 2022
2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

This event is free


School of Graduate Studies


Daniela Ferrer


J.W. McConnell Building
1400 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W.
Room 362



When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.

Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.


My doctoral research is a feminist, utopian exploration of three squats through field research and art practice. Squatting is unlawfully occupying vacant or unused buildings or land without the owner's permission, to create a collective living environment and/or operate a social centre where culture, political organizing, social events, and DIY skills are shared and accessible to a wider community. For three months in autumn 2017, I was a guest, volunteer, and artist-researcher at three squats: the former protest camp Grow Heathrow (est. 2010, evicted/demolished 2021) in London; Can Masdeu (est. 2002), a squat in a former hospital and surrounding gardens in Barcelona, abandoned since the sixties; and Freetown Christiania (est. 1971), founded by squatters on a former military base in central Copenhagen. Situated in three distinct cultural and social contexts, these autonomous communities, and the experiences of the individuals who live there, share many similarities.

My field research involved case studies, field notes, interviews with women squatters, and research-creation informed by feminist oral history and a personal utopian exploration of each site, to investigate intimacies at the intersection of communal living, learning, and creativity. By intimacies, I refer to: a) social intimacies: togetherness or closeness; and (b) material intimacies: closeness through skill-sharing and re-skilling. Developed in parallel and in dialogue with my fieldwork, I created a book of poems and drawings called Intimacies, intended to articulate the emotional knowledge of this research: what intimacy feels like in these community contexts, from my artist-researcher perspective. Intimacies is a seventy-two-page, two-colour, Risograph-printed artist's book of handwritten poems and drawings, which I first developed when visiting these communities. This research uses poetic writing as an active tool and a deep phenomenological probing to approach the complex, subtle experience (Kusserow, 2020) of autonomous collective living. Through a poetic window, I investigate how such experiences, as they impact an individual's personhood, may be creatively expressed. A broader goal of this research is to consider how communal life in these squats can reimagine the world in crucial ways, especially pertaining to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, when offline and intimate communality seems increasingly unattainable.

Back to top

© Concordia University