On the Poverty of Student Life: Considered in Its Economic, Political, Psychological, Sexual, and Especially Intellectual Aspects, with a Modest Proposal for Doing Away with It

The International Situationist, Mustapha Khayati, and Guy Debord


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The manifesto that launched the Situationist International (SI) into the public eye and sparked an uprising is back—with the story of its creation and the histories of its publication told.

When the Situationist International was a little known revolutionary art group, before Guy Debord’s philosophical masterpiece The Society of the Spectacle was published, and before Paris’ universities were occupied in May ’68, a pamphlet titled On the Poverty of Student Life spurred a scandal that would turn into a global revolt. 

On the Poverty of Student Life was a match that recognized and described student and youth alienation, and the way it was printed and distributed spread that fire. For the first edition, supporters of the SI (mis)appropriated school funds to create and distribute 10,000 copies of the pamphlet. From there, dozens of editions were produced by worker- and student-run printing presses around the world, from Paris to East London, from Tokyo to Detroit. This new edition highlights this global underground circulation and brings attention to the common conditions of students, workers, and internationalist resistance in the world of the sixties—bringing that historic reckoning to the present.

Featuring the original English adaptation by former SI member and celebrated translator Donald Nicholson-Smith, an interview with primary author Mustapha Khayati where he traces his map from colonial Algeria to imperial France to the university and the streets, and essays about the political relevance of the manifesto (then and now)—an edition like this has never before existed. With beautiful photographs of nearly one hundred different editions this book provides a cartography of an uprising.

ISBN 9781942173571
List price $24.00
Publisher Common Notions
Year of publication 2022