“Hambi Stays!” Dwelling as Anti-Capitalism in Hambach Forest

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Oliver Hillenkamp


This photo essay explores the activist occupation of Hambach Forest (Hambi) in western Germany, a forest threatened by the expansion of a massive lignite mine. The extractive relationship to the Hambach landscape of RWE (Rheinisch-Westälisches Elektriziätswerk AG), the utility company responsible for the mine, has drawn strong opposition, most prominently in the form of a community of local and international activists who have occupied the forest and squatted abandoned houses in several of the ghost villages since 2012. An ethic of mutual solidarity holds the Hambi activists together and distinguishes them from what they perceive as a destructive and uncaring outside system. This ever-shifting collective of punks, squatters, tree-climbers, and saboteurs structures everything with the goal of continual obstruction to RWE's plans. Their oppositional yet communal collective activity reveals the political potential of a movement rooted in the imperiled forest landscape. Activists turn "trash" into building materials, use found food for creative cooking, and sustain one another through mutual dependency in their commitment to living with and for Hambach Forest. This photo essay uses ethnographic description, interviews, and photography to offer a window into the world of Hambi.

Keywords: Activism, Forest, Extraction, Capitalism, Anthropocene, Anarchism, Materiality

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How to Cite
Hillenkamp, Oliver. 2021. “‘Hambi Stays!’”. Radicle: Reed Anthropology Review 5 (1). https://radiclejournal.org/index.php/rrar/article/view/62.