Text and interview by Camille Polloni and Aurélie Champagne.
The writer and La Fabrique editor Eric Hazan makes a bet: ‘under this government there could be major movements’.
The 76 year-old Eric Hazan arrives on foot from his makeshift office on the heights of nearby Belleville, from where he directs the publisher La Fabrique. This short man, with the physique of a print worker, instantly gets on familiar terms.
I call everyone ‘tu’ and not ‘vous’, all the time. Except those who I think aren’t going to call me ‘tu’ in reply.
Born to a stateless mother (herself born in Palestine) and a Jewish father of Egyptian origin, Eric Hazan has led many lives, having previously been a surgeon in Lebanon and an editor at Beaux-Arts Hazan, inherited from his father, before it was bought out by Lagardère.
Click here for a French-language video of the interview with Eric Hazan.
A writer, translator of Edward Saïd, champion of Palestine and lover of Paris, Eric Hazan began his small activist publisher La Fabrique’s catalogue in 1998 with works by the philosopher Jacques Rancière, Alain Badiou and Edward Saïd, followed by a mass of essays and theoretical texts.
Journeying from Tahrir in 2011 to Tiananmen in 1989, passing via the Paris Commune-era Hôtel de Ville, Libération is spending three weeks surveying the now-symbolic places where citizens defied the powers-that-be in the name of democracy and individual freedom. Today we look at the square in front of Paris’ Hôtel de Ville.
David Bell's hostile review of Eric Hazan’s work is not surprising: clearly, the tradition of “people’s histories”, inaugurated by A.L. Morton’s A People’s History of England (1938) and continued, amongst others, by Howard Zinn and Chris Harman, is unlikely to find favour in the corridors of Princeton’s History Department – at least, since the retirement of Arno Mayer. However, aside from the silly gripe about the cover image (ever heard of artistic licence, David?) and the contemptuous tone of the piece, it is worth dwelling on the sneering reference to “the eccentric Trotskyite [sic.]-anarchist militant Daniel Guérin”.
Andy Merrifield, Professor of Geography at the University of Manchester, has written a glowing review of Eric Hazan's Paris Sous Tension, where he goes in great detail about Hazan's incisive analysis of modern-day Paris:
And, possibly, its future:
What’s happening in Paris, then, is a revealing microcosm of a larger macrocosm. Paris is a cell-form of a bigger urban tissuing that’s constituted by a mosaic of centers and peripheries scattered all over the globe, a patchwork quilt of socio-spatial and racial apartheid that goes for Paris as for Palestine, for London as for Rio, for Johannesburg as for New York. […] Nowadays, the poor global South exists in North-East Paris, or in Queens and Tower Hamlets. And the rich global North lives high above the streets of Mumbai, and flies home in helicopters to its penthouses in Jardins and Morumbi, Sao Paulo.
Like Occupy, Hazan’s notion of insurrection represents a hypothesis, a daring hunch that, for people who care about democracy, for people who know our economic and political system is kaput, change is likely to come from within, from within excluded and impoverished communities, through collective experimentation and struggle, through action and activism that overcomes its own limits, that experiments with itself and the world.