Today we mark the release of Eric Hazan's A History of the Barricade by publishing his analysis of proposed selling off of 48 Rue Ramponeau, a street in the 20th arrondissement in the Belleville district of Paris. In his cultural history of the barricade, Hazan traces the barricade's use in the days of the Paris Commune: Rue Ramponeau is one of the streets of Paris that
compete for the honour of having hosted the final barricade of the Commune. For Lissagaray, ‘the last barricade of the May days was in the rue Ramponeau. For a quarter of an hour a single Federal defended it. Thrice he broke the staff of the Versaillese flag hoisted on the barricade of the rue de Paris [now de Belleville]. As a reward for his courage, this last soldier of the Commune succeeded in escaping.’ Legend has it that this soldier was Lissagaray himself.
Hazan explores the effects of embourgeoisement to the people of Belleville—this is not the first time officials have tried to sell off parts of the neighbourhood—and reflects on the history of protest up to the successful local resistance of the 1990s.
(Photograph: Barricaderamponeau, Wikimedia Commons)
226 years ago today the people of Paris stormed the gates of the Bastille and in doing so starting one of the most momentous occasions of the French Revolution. To celebrate Bastille day, we bring you this short extract from Eric Hazan's People's History of the French Revolution in which Eric discusses the events of July 14th 1789.
For Marx, the greatest achievement of the Paris Commune was its "actual working existence", and we should certainly not exclude its geographical organisation and defensive arcitecture from this category. Ahead of Kristin Ross' discussion with Alberto Toscano at Goldsmiths tonight on the political imaginary of the Paris Commune, we share a series of maps created by Leopold Lambert detailing the shifting architecture of the Commune over time. You can download a high-resolution version of the map here.
From Lambert's essay:
History tends to describe the city where events unfold themselves as a mere context, indifferent to the action that it hosts … I wanted to illustrate how the city, through its constructive, destructive and modificative logics plays a biased role in these historical events. As Karl Marx pointed out in The Civil War in France (1871), many things could have given the Commune higher chances to survive (a more organized offensive against Versailles in the beginning of its existence, the use of the Banque de France left untouched, a more comprehensive defensive strategy etc.), but the thing that the Commune has lacked the most is likely to be time itself, in an effort to transform and subvert the capitalist, imperialist and militarized logics that contextualized the urban fabric in which it was attempting to exist.
Who walks alone in the streets at night? The sad, the mad, the bad. The lost, the lonely. The hypomanic, the catatonic. The sleepless, the homeless. All the city's internal exiles.
“Cities, like cats, will reveal themselves at night,” wrote the poet Rupert Brooke. If nightwalking is a matter of “going astray” in the streets of the metropolis after dark, then nightwalkers represent some of the most suggestive and revealing guides to the neglected and forgotten aspects of the city.
Out this month by Matthew Beaumont, Nightwalking - a nocturnal history of walking in London - shines a light on the shadowy perambulations of poets, novelists and thinkers: Chaucer and Shakespeare; William Blake, the supreme nightwalker Charles Dickens; and many more. Walking in the city is revealed as a place divided between work and pleasure, the affluent and the indigent, where the entitled and the desperate jostle in the streets.
Now out in paperback is one of our bestsellers - A Philosophy of Walking by Frédéric Gros. In this book he charts the many different ways we get from A to B — the pilgrimage, the promenade, the protest march, the nature ramble — and reveals what they say about us.
Also out in paperback this month is The Beach Beneath the Street: The Everyday Life and Glorious Times of the Situationist International by McKenzie Wark. “If I read a more entertaining and thought-provoking work on cultural phenomena this year, I will be, frankly, astonished” said Nick Lezard in his Guardian review of the book. We agree. Re-reading the group’s history in the light of our contemporary experience of communications, architecture, and everyday life, shaping situationist psychology among urban explorers for the eventuality of the situationist city.
Inspired by these brilliant, newly published books, we present Verso's updated guide to political walking - all 50% off until Friday May 1st! After all, there's no such thing as a good walk unless your nose is firmly stuck in a book.