Publisher: Common Notions
Released: May 24, 2022
When the Situationist International (SI) was a little known revolutionary art group, before Guy Debord’s philosophical masterpiece Society of the Spectacle was published, and before Paris’ universities were occupied in May ’68, a pamphlet titled On the Poverty of Student Life spurred a scandal that would turn into a global revolt.
On the Poverty of Student Life was a match that recognized and described student and youth alienation, and the way it was printed and distributed spread that fire. For the first edition, supporters of the SI (mis)appropriated school funds to create and distribute 10,000 copies of the pamphlet. From there, dozens of editions were produced by worker- and student-run printing presses around the world, from Paris to East London, from Tokyo to Detroit. This new edition highlights this global underground circulation and brings attention to the common conditions of students, workers, and anti-imperialist resistance in the world of the sixties—bringing that historic reckoning to the present.
Featuring the original English adaptation by former SI member and celebrated translator Donald Nicholson-Smith, an interview with primary author Mustapha Khayati where he traces his map from colonial Algeria to imperial France to the university and the streets, and essays about the political relevance of the manifesto (then and now)—an edition like this has never before existed. With beautiful photographs of nearly one hundred different editions this book provides a cartography of a world uprisings.