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Henri Lefebvre on Space

Architecture, Urban Research, and the Production of Theory

Lukasz Stanek

Publication Year: 2011

In this innovative work, Lukasz Stanek frames a uniquely contextual appreciation of Henri Lefebvre’s idea that space is a social product. Stanek explicitly confronts both the philosophical and the empirical foundations of Lefebvre’s oeuvre, especially his direct involvement in the fields of urban development, planning, and architecture.

Countering the prevailing view, which reduces Lefebvre’s theory of space to a projection of his philosophical positions, Stanek argues that Lefebvre’s work grew out of his concrete, empirical engagement with everyday practices of dwelling in postwar France and his exchanges with architects and planners. Stanek focuses on the interaction between architecture, urbanism, sociology, and philosophy that occurred in France in the 1960s and 1970s, which was marked by a shift in the processes of urbanization at all scales, from the neighborhood to the global level. Lefebvre’s thinking was central to this encounter, which informed both his theory of space and the concept of urbanization becoming global.

Stanek offers a deeper and clearer understanding of Lefebvre’s thought and its implications for the present day. At a time when cities are increasingly important to our political, spatial, and architectural world, this reassessment proposes a new empirical, and practical, interpretation of Lefebvre’s ideas on urbanism.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press


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pp. 1-5


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pp. v-7

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pp. vii-xv

This book addresses the encounter among sociology, architecture, urbanism, and philosophy in 1960s and early 1970s France in view of the shifts in the postwar processes of urbanization at every scale of the social reality, from that of the neighborhood to the global level. The work of Henri Lefebvre (1901–91)...

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1. Henri Lefebvre: The Production of Theory

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pp. 1-80

The increasing international interest in the theory of production of space in urban research since the late 1980s appears somehow paradoxical in the face of the historical conditions that seem most unfavorable for a rereading of Lefebvre’s work. First, what does it mean to read Lefebvre’s Marxist theory in the...

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2. Research: From Practices of Dwelling to the Production of Space

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pp. 81-132

No concept is more attached to the name “Henri Lefebvre” than that of “the production of space.” The understanding of space as produced in social practices that, in turn, appropriate space as their tool, medium, and milieu was developed in Lefebvre’s writings from The Right to the City (1968) to The Production...

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3. Critique: Space as Concrete Abstraction

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pp. 133-164

In an interview in 1970 Lefebvre recalled a 1943 conversation in Aix-de-Provence with Léon Brunschvicg, his former professor of philosophy at the Sorbonne. Commenting on the news of the German offensive on the Eastern Front, Brunschvicg conceived the battle of Stalingrad as a series of singular events in which a...

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4. Project: Urban Society and Its Architecture

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pp. 165-248

In June 1972, the Groupe de sociologie urbaine Paris 10 and the Institut de recherches at the Unité pédagogique no. 8 organized a colloquium at the Mediterranean tourist new town of Port Grimaud under the topic of architecture and the social sciences with the ambitious aim “to constitute architectural space as an...

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Afterword: Toward an Architecture of Jouissance

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pp. 249-251

Only a few months before fi nishing this book, I found, in a private archive, Henri Lefebvre’s unpublished manuscript with the title “Vers une architecture de la jouissance” (Toward an Architecture of Jouissance). The history of this 225-page manuscript requires additional study; what is clear by now is that it was...

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pp. 253-254

Writing this book involved a lot of talking, and I am grateful for all the conversations that this book occasioned and was sometimes a pretext for. I thank the former students, friends, collaborators, colleagues, and companions of Henri Lefebvre, including Nicole Beaurain, Ricardo Bofi ll, Philippe Boudon, Maïté...


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pp. 255-304


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pp. 305-348


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pp. 349-369

E-ISBN-13: 9780816676729
E-ISBN-10: 0816676720
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816666171

Page Count: 400
Publication Year: 2011