ECOSOC - Oficina de Ecologia e Sociedade


Cartonero Books Universe

June 24 to September 8, 2022, 9h00-18h00 (2ª - 6ª)

CooLabora Cooperative Headquarters (Covilhã)


The history of cartonero book publishers begins with a touch of tragic fable. Once upon a time, a country below the famous Equator line was plunged into one of its habitual cyclical crises. This is the context in which the world's first cartonero publishing house emerged; today it is estimated that there are more than 150 on the planet.

Created by small groups of people involved in literary and cultural production, and in some cases also by groups with political and social concerns, cartonero publishing houses often function as proposals for intervention in order to unveil the voices and languages of subjects that have always been silenced, to make writing and reading a more influential practice in daily life, especially among sectors that have historically been on the margins of literate culture.

It can be said that the originality of the cartonero book lies in the support used to make the covers and in the graphic work they receive, because by using cardboard (cartón in Spanish) we reverse the fate of a typical material of the consumer society, the rubbish dumps or recycling companies, for its conversion through creativity in part of an object that seeks to insert itself under another logic in the field of symbolic goods. In this sense, the option for cardboard is linked to the gesture of ecological awareness in the current struggle for the sustainability of the planet, a gesture that is not without a political stance. In addition, the result of the graphic interventions on the covers, using different techniques, gives the cartonero book a certain “aura”, as each copy is unique due to its singularity.

The exhibition presented here is only a small sample of the heterogeneous universe of the paperback cartoneros. Visitors will be able to see what publishers from various countries in Latin America, Europe and Africa publish and the unique way in which they produce their books. The guiding spirit is to enable the Portuguese public to get to know the editorial proposal that was born out of precariousness and is now spreading to different parts of the world. [Excerpts from a text by Gaudêncio Gaudério, Vento Norte Cartonero]

There are more than 100 books from 19 countries.

Through a partnership between the CES Ecology and Society Lab, the publisher Vento Norte Cartonero, Casa da Esquina, Animar and its associates, Sinergias ED, CEAUP and FGS, conditions were created for the exhibition to be known in several locations in the Centro region of Portugal. This initiative is also part of the Animar Routes, in Roteiro Territorial Região Centro-Livros Cartoneros.

Local Organisers: CooLabora and MANIFesta