Affective Politics, Activism and the Commons: From WECH to Grenfell

Blackman, Lisa. 2021. Affective Politics, Activism and the Commons: From WECH to Grenfell. New Formations: A Journal of Culture, Theory, Politics, ISSN 0950-2378 [Article] (Forthcoming)

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Abstract or Description

The story of WECH (Walterton and Elgin Community Housing) that I will partially tell in this article contributes to important work on gentrification and displacement that particularly focuses on what are sometimes cast as the more psychosocial or affective dimensions of community formation and activism (see Brown and Pickerill, 2009; Gilbert, 2013; MacKenzie, (2017 a and b); Studdert and Walkerdine, (2016); Walkerdine, 2016; Walkerdine and Jimenez, 2012). It explores the importance of a housing commons and the importance of creating communality-through-difference. It speaks to the urgency and importance of retaining, cultivating and supporting communities, and imagining alternative housing models and models of sociality that exceed or challenge neoliberal notions of autonomous selfhood (also see Skeggs, 2011). Unlike the survivors, and those whose lives were tragically taken in the Grenfell fire, WECH stands as a beacon of hope reminding us of what was and is possible beyond the devastation and neglect symbolized by the charred remains of the tower. Both exist materially, symbolically, politically and affectively shaping a particular area of West London speaking to each other across shared geographies and histories. The story I will tell focuses upon what we can learn from the Walterton and Elgin Action Group to understand the success, effectivity and affectivity of their campaign. Without them the “Homes for Votes” scandal would unlikely never have been exposed.

Item Type:



WECH (Walterton and Elgin Community Housing), gentrification, displacement, housing, campaigns, communities

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


14 January 2019Accepted

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

01 Feb 2019 16:44

Last Modified:

06 Nov 2020 15:19

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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