Classes de Lutte

This project was initiated in 2016 at Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers (Paris).

For further details please check the website: http://www.leslaboratoires.org/ctxnode/2721/670

Paloma Polo committed to an unprecedented investigation into a dimension of the notable history of political struggles shaping the Parisian north periphery. Far from engaging in a nostalgic detour, she pursues eclipsed and obscured narrations, interlocutions and social configurations in light of the present reality of Aubervilliers, the city of France that is host to the highest percentage of migrants, according to figures that exclude undocumented people.

Aubervilliers, Saint Denis and the Parisian Banlieue Rouge at large sheltered thousands of Spanish political exiles since the civil war and throughout Francoism. Hundreds of them lived a ghostly existence, many with counterfeited identifications and some completely clandestine, as they strived in the shadows for the organisation of a movement in Spain to democratically assail a brutally repressive and violent system.
This underground movement, orchestrated from the periphery of Paris by the Spanish Communist Party, barely left material traces but, most importantly, is scarcely traceable in a national history that has been written by way of a systematic erasure of the exploits that paved the way for what, unfortunately, shifted to a delusive “democratic aperture” in the aftermath of the dictatorship.

Paloma Polo is plunging into a dormant memory that has primarily survived through oral transmission and has been sustained by militants that have almost entirely passed away. It is not arbitrary that there is no comprehensive critical recollection, compilation or repository of this decisive historical dimension. Furthermore, non-male subjectivities are doubly buried in this violent gesture.

Our political sequence is different and yet there is an eerie correlation to this former juncture: Europe is convulsed by an upsurge of fascism entrenched in a devastated social fabric while millions of migrants and exiles fleeing from war, oppression and exploitation are stumbling into brutal State violence and discrimination. However, contemporary times in the West are marked by a very significant difference: we are lacking in concrete political horizons or projects and we do not seem to be able to think politics in new terms.

Parliamentarism, endorsed by significant swathes of popular opinions, has declared its violence. It makes the war, it is war, in the words of Sylvain Lazarus. Amidst this convolution, if we continue to follow Lazarus’ claims, only a few are groping to find the new words required to comprehend our era.

The Spanish political movement during Francoism, like many others at the time, was propelled by a socio-political project and by ideas and values that crystalized in a clandestine discipline of organisational processes and tight communities consolidated more visibly in Spanish grassroots organisations.

Aside from solidarity networks, were these collectives able to endow individuals with an alternate comprehension of the ontological attributes for humane relations?
If we concede to the idea that politics is rare and precarious, was there an aptitude for creating places of politics, of independent thought?
Can anything be salvaged from this struggle to help rekindle social bounds and equip us to face up to our contemporary situation?
How can we think and talk about what has not been thought nor talked about beyond minor groups that are inaccessible at present and remain cut off from the sanctioned past?

The investigations that Polo conducts are to be punctuated in accordance to Sylvain Lazarus’ claim: “We have to assume the task of establishing in utterly new terms the expected outcomes and methods of thought and knowledge, if the interlocution is done with the people”. [1]

Paloma Polo’s proposition is to devise and stage a narrative, a script, pertaining to the emergence of matter for thought in the people, in humane forms of socialization that are on the fringe, bearing the disdain of past recollections, but nonetheless shrouding our being in the world nowadays.

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[1] Sylvain Lazarus, Anthropology of the Name, Seagull Books, 2015, Preface to the English edition, p. 11