Twenty years ago, the French social theorist Henri Lefebvre died at the age of 90, leaving an oeuvre of over 50 books and countless essays. Although at the time of his death Lefebvre was little known in the Anglophone academic world, the two decades since have been marked by an explosion of interest in his thought, with increasing recognition of his contributions to a variety of scholarly fields and ongoing translation of his major works. Still, students and established scholars alike are often left with the feeling that Lefebvre’s writing is full of insights but is unwieldy or too unsystematic to use as a guide for further research. For example, concepts essential to sociology, history, anthropology, cultural studies, and other fields—such as everyday life or the production of space—originate with Lefebvre. But beyond acknowledgment of this lineage, how can Lefebvre’s work be productive for new scholarship?
In the past two decades a wave of radical scholarship has reassessed Lefebvre’s thought and pushed it in new directions. But the reemergence of sustained mass struggle in the streets of cities across the world calls to the foreground aspects of Lefebvre’s work that were underappreciated in the decades of neoliberal ascendance, when the majority of his work was translated into English. Despite the transformations of the past 40 years, despite the difficulty of Lefebvre’s thought, the participants in Connecting Concrete and Abstract demonstrate the renewed relevance of an analysis of urban revolution.
Lefebvre’s works in English translation:
Autogestion, or Henri Lefebvre in New Belgrade. Sabine Bitter and Helmut Weber, eds. Fllip and Sternberg (2009)
Dialectical Materialism. Translated by John Sturrock. University of Minnesota Press (2009)
State, Space, World: Selected Essays. Neil Brenner and Stuart Elden, eds. Translated by Gerald Moore, Neil Brenner, Stuart Elden. University of Minnesota Press (2009)
Critique of Everyday Life, Vol. 1, 2, 3. Translated by John Moore. Verso (2008)
Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life. Translated by Gerald Moore and Stuart Elden. Continuum (2004)
Henri Lefebvre: Key Writings. Stuart Elden, Elizabeth Lebas, Eleonore Kofman, eds. Continuum (2003)
The Urban Revolution. Translated by Robert Bononno. University of Minnesota Press (2003)
Writing on Cities. Eleonore Kofman and Elizabeth Lebas, eds. Blackwell (1996)
Introduction to Modernity: Twelve Preludes, September 1959 – May 1961. Translated by John Moore. Verso (1995)
The Production of Space. Translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith. Blackwell (1991)
Everyday Life in the Modern World. Translated by Sacha Rabinovitch. Transaction Publishers (1984)
The Sociology of Marx. Translated by Norbert Guterman. Columbia University Press (1982)
The Survival of Capitalism: Reproduction of the Relations of Production. Translated by Frank Bryant. Allison and Busby (1981)
The Explosion: Marxism and the French Upheaval. Translated by Alfred Ehrenfeld. Monthly Review (1969)
“Toward a Leftist Cultural Politics: Remarks Occasioned by the Centenary of Marx’s Death” in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg, eds. University of Illinois Press (1988)
“The Everyday and Everydayness” Yale French Studies 73 (1987)
“Marxism Exploded” Review (Fernand Braudel Center) Vol. 4 No. 1 (Summer 1980)
“What Is the Historical Past?” New Left Review Series I No. 90 (March-April 1975)
The secondary literature on Lefebvre is large and continually growing. Some recommended and exemplary work by Connecting Concrete and Abstract participants is here.