Latin American politics underground: networks, rhizomes and resistance in cartonera publishing

Lucy Bell, Patrick O'Hare

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Cartonera publishing emerged in post-crisis Buenos Aires with the birth of Eloísa cartonera (2003), whose founders proposed a radically new model of making books out of recycled cardboard, purchased from, and made with, cartoneros (waste-pickers). Since then, this model has been adapted across Latin America by an ever-growing number of collectives (currently around 250). In this article we ask: What relations and/or networks have enabled this model of underground cultural production to grow on such a scale? What modalities of resistance do they enable? Our contention is that Deleuze and Guattari’s theory of rhizomes helps in understanding the ways in which cartoneras work, network and spread. Examining texts and practices across Argentina, Mexico and Brazil through literary analysis and ethnography, we make a case for the political significance of cartonera networks and, more broadly, the possibilities afforded by rhizomatic formations for emerging modes of micro-political action and transnational cultural activism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-41
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Studies
Issue number1
Early online date8 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Activism
  • Affect
  • Cultural production
  • Dispersion
  • Editoriales cartoneras
  • Horizontality
  • Latin America
  • Publishing
  • Resistance
  • Rhizome


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