Montreal Bookfair Mixes Theory with Practice


Fifth Estate # 361, Summer 2003

MONTREAL—In the narrow street outside the building where the fourth annual Montreal Anarchist Bookfair had taken place, May 17-18, people milled around—chatting about the workshops and thanking us for a well organized weekend The members of the collective ‘were wired, tired, and relieved following the weeks of activity.

The Montreal May Day march inspired the Anarchist contingent to continue marching daily—sometimes twice a day—until the bookfair weekend.

Events of the Fair began on the evening of Friday, May 16 with a panel entitled “Anarchists and the War.” The group included representatives from the Anarchist Federation of France, as well as participants from the US and Quebec. On Saturday, over 1,500 people browsed, discussed, and bought from the more than 75 vendors who represented small and large presses and distributors from Europe, Latin America, the US, and Canada.

What distinguishes the Montreal bookfair from others in North America is the connection between French speaking Quebecois anarchists with those in Europe, and this is reflected in the number of European presses. As well, there are strong links with Mexican anarchists, who also had a table. There were exhibits about the Paris Commune and lesser-known aspects of the Zapatista movement. In addition to workshops, events included theatre in the park, films, and a walking tour conducted by the CLAC (Convergence des luttes anti-capitalistes) through the poor neighborhood where the bookfair was held.

On Sunday, there were 15 workshops—a mix of theoretical and practical, given in English, French, or Spanish. The ongoing, informal small-group translation into English or French permitted people to meet and discuss important questions with those who don’t speak the same language.

Highlights leading up to the bookfair included a talk by Martha Ackelsberg, author of Free Women of Spain, a 4 day film festival, a poetry reading, a book launch of the French translation of Tolstoy’s political writings, a discussion about technology, nature, and domination, another concerning anarchy at work, and a benefit show.

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