Researching social centres has been continuously rich in lessons; each time I interviewed someone who shared with me their vision and commitment to the social centre scene, not least their passion and dedication to doing things themselves, I would feel enlivened with their genuine dynamism. To be part of a social centre, whether squatted or not, takes some effort. If you are repeatedly putting yourself in situations where you may be evicted as a result of a Court order, potentially fined or imprisoned upon the arrival of s.144 of LASPO, being part of a social centre is certainly a commitment beyond joining a club or community group in the traditional sense – it is not for the faint-hearted. It takes tenacity, vigour, nerve, determination, knowledge of the law and, above all, organisation and energy. The pervading negative connotation of squatters does not reflect this organised and cooperative nature, mainstream representations ardent with chaos and ineptitude, and that is arguably how squatters have been perceived for the most part over the years. Dadusc and Dee (2012), as well as Cowan, Fox O’Mahony and Cobb have written specifically on this media-fuelled persona of squatters (2013), and the apparent immorality attached to the squatter. It is by observing and recording some of the alternative methods of organisation that the social centre participants use, that social centre participants are under stood as dedicated and capable people, and proficient of a legal innovation. It is in this chapter that these very rituals, the mundane and vernacular traits

of keeping a space running, are explained; how state law knowledge and the social centres’ burgeoning self-awareness through archiving and recording their activities, their philosophies, connections and ideals, all add to the enactments of the spaces. It is also the aim of this chapter to associate these characteristics and performances with a law-making quality, based on the discussions we have had thus far. This is bearing in mind that the type of law to which we are referring

co-opts state law, either within the proprietorial right of resistance that we see as squatters’ rights, or further at a distance from the state through criminalisation, echoing supplementary gradients of autonomy-as-placement and autonomy-aspractice. The legality emanating from the centres at times takes from state law, through the participants’ understanding of the right to exclude, and at other times expresses itself in entirely new forms to the positive law we would automatically connote as the only form of law. As we know, the more state law characteristics assumed, the more likely the social centre will continue along the continuum of formalism; the less institutionalisation, the more likely the social centre will remain squatted determining its nonlinear informality. An example of a social centre manifesting different stages of the continuum is Kebele social centre in Bristol, that went from squatted originally, to rented and then finally to cooperatively owned by the collective. Before we seek to describe the nature of a law of resistance that exists in social

centres specifically, which we will come to term as social centre law, let us quickly remind ourselves of what we have covered so far in the first three chapters. We began by discussing the nature of law and resistance, and what differen-

tiates one from the other. The variance between state law and resistance is based on institutionalisation as a process and a product at the same time, moving in a cumulative motion along a continuum of formalism to produce the legitimated institution of state law, as opposed to the informal and illegitimate pre-institutional transience of resistance. State law is expressed through force, representation and hierarchy, at which point private property rights interject and the institution of state law formulates. This monopoly of power we spoke of in relation to the social contract reasserted that both state law and resistance are contingent of one another, with the democratic basis of each being presence in the form of the collective. The practice of state law we described as becoming fetishised with the process and product of the institution of individual property rights (as expressed through the monopoly of force, representation and hierarchy), to the detriment of its originary present and collective consciousness. This presence is lost with the onset of institutionalisation that promotes, and intrinsically relies on, re-presence in order for there to be an institution of state law at all. State law thus relies on its legitimacy being valid in a twofold manner: representative of the people (the constitution) whilst at the same time owing its authority to the institutionalisation process itself. The continuum of formalism we have referred back to is one that is argued as moving in a linear direction, whereas the informal nonlinearity of resistance is thus nonlinear by nature. Where there is change from resistance to state law bears reference to specific junctures in the linear formalism and nonlinear informality of both. It is interesting to note that the theme of nonlinearity becomes more vivid as

we reveal some of the social centres’ archival techniques, the ways in which they record and remember themselves as individual social centres but also as a larger movement. Whilst visiting the 56a Infoshop archive in Camberwell, South London, I was lucky enough to be shown the timeline of the social centre

movement feeding this notion of resistance being informal, as the timeline was certainly not drawn in an arrow-like fashion as would be expected – more on this later. Not only did we refer to the divisions and distinctions between law and

resistance, but also to the possibilities of laws that are not institutionalised and do not exist as examples of state formalism. This opens out the possibility that there need not be just one conception of law, reliant on the state institutionalised structure with which we have become so familiar. Legal innovation that occurs outside of the state can very often look like state law, and takes on state law characteristics, strategies and tactics (such as through participants’ admiration for the law most obviously in their re-appropriation of the right to exclude within squatting), but does not have to look like state law for it to be a form of law. Squatted social centre participants observe the state law maxim of the right to exclude, in order to reclaim space where they can re-occupy and re-enact their performance of social organisation. This is where we began to relay the possibility of a law of resistance or forms of law that are pre-institutional and happen as a result of presence; by allowing for presence and not re-presence, there is no need for institutionalisation in order to hold legitimacy. This law of resistance, as we have just referred to in the previous chapter, actually asserts itself at a juncture between law and resistance, in an a-legal vacuum. A law of resistance can either exist overtly (within state law) through an example of a proprietorial right of resistance such as squatters’ rights, or covertly within nonlinear informalities of resistance, such as through criminalised squats. This juncture is one that exists as a temporal and spatial signature, and one that highlights the four-dimensional nature of law and resistance, and a law of resistance. This is particularly evocative of the squatting and social centre movements as we have seen so far, and this chapter seeks to explain the spatial and temporal practices that might elucidate a site of legal innovation within the social centre scene. Furthering the spatio-temporal placement of a law of resistance in terms of its

proximity to the state, autonomy-as-placement and as practice, allows us to see how at once distinct and yet simultaneously, intertwined, a law of resistance is to the institution of state law. State law shapes its exterior, and interior too, as all that from which state law refrains, lives within such zones. Social centres’ proximity to the state relays their semi-autonomy, and equally, in terms of a continuum of autonomy, the influence squatting and social centres have on state law’s reliance of its zone of exception which, if relying on a Schmittean understanding of the earth as grounding of all law, allows for all other property rights to become realised. In this chapter we return back to social centres themselves in order to delineate

what exactly might be a social centre law. As we spoke of in chapter two, social centres have the capacity to initiate both state law and a law of resistance, whether exemplified through their being rented and owned, or that they can be squatted. This is the underlying identification that social centres are primarily forms of direct democracy (presence), whilst also being concerned with collective

consciousness, much like the pre-constitutional and constituent power. Social centre participants’ semi-autonomy can be an expression of their admiration for law, whereby through respecting the now reduced framework of squatters’ rights, they have in the past demonstrated an acceptance and re-appropriation of the right to exclude as a tactic and strategy in their protest law. This nonlinear example of a law of resistance occurs through a philosophy of anarchism, anti-authoritarianism and autonomism, exuded within their practices, allowing for an alternate resolve of self-legislation. This is their autonomy-as-practice and autonomy-asplacement where proximity from state legitimation is also a measure of their autonomist practices overall. The ways that they create this law is central to the performance of the

alternative practices that they relay. It will become clear that the practices and organisation are reminiscent of a communal setting; and that there is a process and product as part of the reclamation and occupation taking place within the performance of their law. This reclamation is important in that it connotes a taking back, a re-occupation and not just occupation. Re-occupation and re-enactment are proposed as the binary terms for the process and product (performed and archived) of social centre law. Given the legal pluralist literature used as a framework for understanding that there are plural ways of law, combined with more geographical understandings of law that help explain occupation protests and state law’s response, the next stage is to show the means through which these social centres manifest law. Law is presented as re-occupation and re-enactment through their organisational practices; the semi-autonomy of squatters’ rights; admiration for the law and self-management; and resultantly self-legislation (autonomy) as a means of creating law. Prior to explaining this, there should be a clarification of the terms, re-occupation

and re-enactment being used throughout this discussion. The meaning and function of using these terms is to simplify a process that holds within it the various moments and elements coalescing an arguable social centre law. Occasionally the words enactment and occupation are used, but they are to be read as ‘reenactment’ and ‘re-occupation’; in those instances, the use of the former may be more grammatically or contextually appropriate. Social centre law expresses reoccupation and re-enactment due to the processes of taking back in tandem with a performance. Re-occupation thus connotes something that was occupied before, and this can be felt in two ways, that of the symbolic and that of the actual. The symbolic taking of space is the requiting of the sense of loss, a re-justification of property through its occupation (spatial justice), reclaiming it from the realm of private property determination back to the present and the collective. The second manner in which this is a re-occupation lies within the fact that other inhabitants have previously occupied the buildings in which social centres settle. As for re-enactment, this again lends itself in this lexical formulation in two

ways: first, the use of the word enactment connotes that of a performance, an action. Combined with the prefix it becomes something that has been done before, or repeated. Within this is a theatrical quality, as it is a portrayal at the

same time as being a description of a current reality. Second, this portrayal, is reenactment as the re-telling of a story, within the practices and actions of the (performances) of the social centre participants, ‘archiving’ autonomy-as-practice and autonomy-as-placement. This means that the manner in which they selfmanage and self-organise themselves replicates methods used by movements of a communal nature. Here, the commons is that method of resource management, the same commons of collective management and collective rights encroached upon by the Parliamentary Enclosures, being both resource and resource management method at the same time. The specific methods of re-occupation refer to the legal or illegal returning of

a landed space to collective management, through a) knowledge of state law and b) daily, practical maintenance of an everyday nature of the space. State law is acknowledged in order for the buildings to be secured, whether through squatters’ rights or criminal trespass. Once a building is taken, the re-occupation has to maintain some level of longevity where windows need to be fixed, electricity cables mended, water switched on, clearing up and cleaning to be done. These are the daily, vernacular level examples of the continual re-occupation of the social centres that only occur through some understanding and admiration for state law. Reenaction refers to the practices and enactments of social centre participants that create informal rituals resembling codes of written and unwritten organisation or in other words, the performance of an archive. These forms of organisation are the replication of the commons, the DiY mentality, the autonomist concerns that allow for a collective level of organisation (autonomy-as-practice and autonomyas-placement). The more similar the methods of organisation to state law (such as written forms, constitutions, etc.), the closer the social centre is to a continuum of formalism, eventually to be subsumed into individual property rights through the legitimation and institutionalisation of state law. Once a social centre becomes aware of itself as a social centre by recognising its place within history, and a network of wider movements and social centre genealogies, we begin to see the social centres archiving themselves. This archiving and recording is not only in the form of books, photos, documentation, online portals and indexes of the wider community of social centres, which social centres feel connected to and a part of (see the Autonomous London website for an online memory of spaces from the past, evicted and ongoing), but it is also a conscious memory found in tasks, chores, and the gathered signification and re-signification of their daily performances. Archiving is a performative movement which is not only about physical records

but also about the custom in which both state law and social centre law (or other laws of resistance) work to effect and affect themselves at a given juncture, whilst referring back to the past and influencing the future at the same time. With laws of resistance, re-enaction entails archiving concerned with reinforcing the present and the collective by keeping social centres outside of a continuum of formalism and expressing nonlinear informality by remaining within an a-legal vacuum where state legality or illegality is restrained. All are based on practices as moments in space and time, combined to form habits manifesting themselves in a

performance of temporal and spatial autonomy, whilst at the same time recount - ing themselves as part of a wider network of examples of Hakim Bey’s TAZ by both memorialising the past and projecting into the future. Archiving is a temporal and spatial practice, and practices are performances of both processes and products of laws of resistance. I argue that social centres and other such occupation protests utilising both re-occupation and re-enactment as expressions of their law of resistance are archiving the memory of the commons. I argue that the state is archiving the memory of enclosure. The social centre participants involved in this research came from a mixture of

squatted, rented and owned spaces. Participants from the squatted centres included members of rampART in Whitechapel, The Library House in Camber - well, 1000 Flowers Social Centre in Dalston and 195 Mare Street in Hackney. I spoke to a member of the rented space 56a Infoshop, Elephant and Castle, and members of the cooperatively owned space Kebele in Bristol. Each of the members were spoken to in an informal and unstructured interview setting, the location being the social centres themselves in each instance.