The Cartonera Publishers Collection at the Senate House Library comprises over 200 books from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, and Paraguay made of recycled cardboard (cartón in Spanish), paper, and other discarded materials. Books are hand-made with a variety of binding styles, and their covers individually hand-painted which makes each item unique. Print runs are short.
This collection started as part of a collaborative AHRC-funded project developed by researchers in this field together with institutions like Senate House Library, Cambridge University Library and the British Library between 2017 and 2019.
Cartonera publishers are small grassroots cooperatives with strong links to local communities that originated in Argentina in 2003 and then spread to Latin America, the USA, and to some European and African countries. These publishers produce books at low prices so they are accessible to most people. They are often involved in social, ecological, and digital activism.
The books at Senate House Library are in Spanish, Portuguese, German, Portuñol (a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese spoken in some parts of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil), and Nahuatl (one of Mexico’s indigenous languages). The most common genres include poetry, short stories, narrative, essays, and comics. They address a wide range of topics including human rights issues, countercultural literature, social and political resistance, women’s rights, LGBTQ+ issues, indigenous rights, and the rights of marginalised communities.
For further details or to consult the Latin American Cartonera Publishers Collection at the Senate House Library, contact the Latin American Studies Collection Development Coordinator Julio Cazzasa (firstname.lastname@example.org)