Why read a long dead French Marxist to think about land struggles today?

Politics Reconsidered

paul klee

By Stuart Elden and Adam David Morton

Henri Lefebvre was a French Marxist sociologist and philosopher, whose date of birth is disputed, but was probably 1901, and whose long life came to an end in 1991. He is principally known in English language discussions for his work on three related topics – everyday life, urban politics and the production of space. Lefebvre wrote widely, with several works of philosophy, including stinging critiques of existentialism and structuralism; a number of studies of Marx, Hegel and Nietzsche; books on French literary and philosophical figures such as Rabelais, Descartes, Musset and Pascal; alongside his major work De l’État, whose four volumes are partly summarised in the English collection State, Space, Worldand his wide ranging The Production of Space that has proved important in and beyond the discipline of geography. But Lefebvre also wrote extensively on rural politics and land questions. It…

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Not in the margins: circulatory system and shanty towns in Caracas — some reflections by George Ciccariello-Maher

Venezuela Analysis has some interesting reflections by George Ciccariello-Maher on the concept of urban marginality in Caracas (originally published in Jacobin), and which can be generalized, to some extent, to other Latin American cities. Ciccariello-Maher argues that Continue reading

La guardería

La guardería

A post by De otro tiempo on a now defunct space. In Spanish, although others posts in the blog are also in English. From the post: “Se trata de un edificio situado en un entorno privilegiado que por desgracia ya no existe. Como su nombre indica, su última función fue la de guardería, que fue desempeñada hasta hace unos años. La guardería ocupaba la Continue reading

Tejerías: industrial sites of a not so remote past

The making of bricks and roof tiles, in what in Bolivia is known as tejerías (or in Spain as tejeras), is still an important part of the economic life of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Like pottery (alfarería: from the arabic word fahhâr, mud) and other related techniques, the tejería (teja: from the Latin word tegula, itself a diminutive based in the Latin root tegere, to cover) is an ancient industrial technology. The Europeans introduced the tejería technology to the Andes and the Amazon, where it combined with established native pottery traditions and diverse ceramic techniques. Pre-Columbian Andean buildings were roofed with woven reeds covered with plaster, and still today many peasant homes do not use roof tiles. Nevertheless tejas are an essential component of urban Hispanic Colonial architecture and a symbol of status. The urban landscape of Latin American cities would be inconceivable without this construction material.

According to historian of local traditions Carlos Cirbián (El Deber, September 2013), in the Colonial Period the tejerías were located in the city district known as “El Tao” (a deformation of the Chiquitano word tauch, meaning mud, or clay). A pond, fed by the waters coming from the tejerías, was part of this neighborhood until at least the end of the Nineteenth Century. At the beginning of the Nineteenth century it was inhabited by descendants of African slaves, who probably also worked in the brick-and-tile site. By the middle of the Twentieth Century the tejerías and the pond disappeared, replaced by a square, as part of the modern urban reform plan being implemented by Continue reading