Solidarity as a temporary social infrastructure
Anti-eviction struggles in Serbia during the pandemic
Ana Vilenica, Vladimir Mentus, Tanja Šljivar, Petra Murić (Združena akcija Krov nad glavom/the Roof)
Keywords: COVID-19, Serbia, anti-eviction struggle, mutual aid, solidarity
During the pandemic, anti-eviction and food solidarity work continued to be an important self-organised, social and political, people-activist and radical infrastructure. Although the catastrophic effects of the so-called “funniest virus in history” in Serbia are gaining momentum, the state not only does not have mechanisms to weaken them but systematically hinders and criminalizes self-organized mutual aid efforts. The Roof, a self-organized anti-eviction direct-action collective, has to be more active than ever. While the evictions were temporarily put on hold during the first lockdown, the collective shifted its focus to solidarity with the most socially deprived individuals, collecting and redirecting (mutual) aid, especially in the form of food, hygiene products, and pharmaceuticals. However, after the curfew and lock-down came to an end, public-private bailiffs resumed orchestrating evictions. Although solidarity played an essential role in the pandemic’s survival, its criminalization on charges related to anti-eviction activities also intensified during this period. An additional burden on the socially deprived, already pandemically-devastated, is the suddenly announced transfer of almost a million old debt cases to public-private bailiffs in course of the next two years.