Infoshop

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Exterior of L'Insoumise infoshop and bookstore in Montreal, Canada.

Infoshops are places in which people can access anarchist or autonomist ideas. They are often stand-alone projects, or can form part of a larger radical bookshop, archive, autonomous social centre or community centre. Typically, infoshops offer flyers, posters, zines, pamphlets and books for sale or donation. Other items such as badges, locally produced artworks and T-shirts are also often available. Infoshops can also provide printing and copying facilities for people to produce their own literature or have a meeting space.

Infoshops can be found in many cities in North America and Western Europe, and also in other locations around the world such as Australia, Israel and New Zealand. They vary in size and function. They are self-managed spaces run by volunteers.

Radical spaces[edit]

Interior of Left Bank Books in Seattle, Washington, 2006.

An infoshop (the word being a portmanteau of information and shop) is a physical space where people can access radical ideas through flyers, posters, zines, pamphlets and books. It also provides a space to meet other people and in some cases to organise events such as meetings or fundraisers.[1] Some infoshops have computers, copy machines and printers so that pamphlets, position papers, articles, magazines, and newspapers can be created and then circulated between the network of spaces.[2]

Academic Chris Atton describes the infoshop as a "forum for alternative cultural, economic, political and social activities."[3] For example, in a flyer announcing its planned activities, the Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh (ACE) stated it would make available locally produced arts and crafts, records, T-shirts, badges, books, zines and information.[3] When it opened the following year, ACE provided flyers, leaflets, newsletters, magazines and journals about causes such as antivivisectionism, anti-monarchism, hunt sabotage and jobseeker's allowance advice.[4]

Like social centres, infoshops vary in size and function depending on local context.[4] Many contemporary anarchists first come into contact with radical politics through an infoshop.[5]

Infoshops tend to be run on a voluntary basis by a non-hierarchical collective. The spaces are non-profit and self-managed.[6]

Antecedents[edit]

In the United Kingdom, early antecedents of infoshops were the radical presses such as Giles Calvert's printshop (1600s) and John Doherty's coffee house (1830s).[7] More recently, infoshops were associated with squatted anarchist social centres such as the 121 Centre in Brixton, London[8] and the Free Information Network (FIN).[6]

Writing in Maximumrocknroll in the 1990s, Chuck Munson placed North American infoshops in the lineage of peace and justice community centres and acknowledged the influence of European social centres.[9] Munson also stated there were over 60 infoshops (infoladen) in Germany which were connected to the anarchist, autonomist, squatting and punk movements.[9]

Around the world[edit]

Self-managed social centres in Italy, such as Forte Prenestino, in Rome often contain infoshops.[7]

Social centres in the United Kingdom often contain infoshops, such as for example the Cowley Club in Brighton and the 1 in 12 Club in Bradford. There is also the 56a Infoshop in London.[10] In the mid 2000s, as well as these spaces, there were infoshops in Leeds, Manchester, Norwich and Nottingham.[4]

In the 1990s, there were the following infoshops in North America: 223 Center (Portland, Oregon); 404 Willis (Detroit); A-Space (Philadelphia); Arise! Bookstore & Resource Center (Minneapolis); Autonomous Zone (Chicago); Beehive Infoshop (Washington DC); Blackout Books (New York City); Crescent Wrench Infoshop (New Orleans); Croatan (Baltimore); Emma Center (Minneapolis); Epicenter (San Francisco); Long Haul (Berkeley); Lucy Parsons Center (Cambridge); Mayday Books (Minneapolis); Who's Emma (Toronto); Wooden Shoe Books (Philadelphia).[9][11]

Elsewhere in the world, projects include Jura Books in Australia, Salon Mazal in Israel and Freedom Shop in New Zealand.

Related projects include anarchist archives, bunkos in Japan and community libraries.[11]

Notable infoshops[edit]

Name Location Established Status
1 in 12 Club Bradford, UK 1988 Ongoing
121 Centre London, UK 1989 Former
56a Infoshop[12] London, UK 1991 Ongoing
ABC No Rio New York, USA 1980 Ongoing
Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh Edinburgh, UK 1997 Ongoing
BIT London, UK 1968 Former
Boxcar Books Bloomington, USA 2001 Former
Brian MacKenzie Infoshop Washington DC, USA 2003 Former
Camas Bookstore and Infoshop Victoria, Canada 2007 Ongoing
Catalyst Infoshop Prescott, USA 2004 Former
Cowley Club Brighton, UK 2002 Ongoing
Firestorm Cafe & Books Asheville, USA 2008 Ongoing
Forte Prenestino Rome, Italy 1986 Ongoing
Freedom Shop New Zealand 1995 Ongoing
Grote Broek Nijmegen, Netherlands 1984 Ongoing
Insoumise Montreal, Canada 2004 Ongoing
Internationalist Books Chapel Hill, USA 1981 Former
Jura Books Sydney, Australia 1977 Ongoing
Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse Baltimore, USA 2004 Ongoing
Salon Mazal Tel Aviv, Israel 1968 Former
Spartacus Books Vancouver, Canada 1973 Ongoing
Sumac Centre Nottingham, UK 1984 Ongoing
Vrijplaats Koppenhinksteeg Leiden, Netherlands 1968 Former
Warzone Centre Belfast, UK 1986-2003, 2011-2018 Former
A panoramic view of the interior of the Lucy Parsons Center in Boston, United States.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Olson, Joel (2009). "The Problem with Infoshops and Insurrection: U.S. Anarchism, Movement-Building, and the Racial Order". In Amster, Randall; DeLeon, Abraham; Fernandez, Luis A.; Nocella III, Anthony J.; Shannon, Deric (eds.). Routledge. Contemporary Anarchist Studies: An Introductory Anthology of Anarchy in the Academy. p. 40. ISBN 9780415474023.
  2. ^ Katsiaficas, George (1997). The Subversion of Politics: European Autonomous Social Movements and the Decolonization of Everyday life. p. 190. ISBN 9781904859-536.
  3. ^ a b Atton, Chris (2010). Alternative Media. Sage. p. 48. ISBN 9780761967705.
  4. ^ a b c Lacey, Anita (2005). "Networked Communities". Space and Culture. 8 (3): 286–301. doi:10.1177/1206331205277350.
  5. ^ Shannon, Deric (2009). "As beautiful as a brick through a bank window: Anarchism, the academy, and resisting domestication". In Amster, Randall; DeLeon, Abraham; Fernandez, Luis A.; Nocella III, Anthony J.; Shannon, Deric (eds.). Routledge. Contemporary Anarchist Studies: An Introductory Anthology of Anarchy in the Academy. p. 183. ISBN 9780415474023.
  6. ^ a b Atton, Chris (1999). "The infoshop: The alternative information centre of the 1990s". New Library World. 100: 24–29. doi:10.1108/03074809910248564.
  7. ^ a b Atton, Chris (2010). Alternative Media. Sage. p. 53. ISBN 9780761967705.
  8. ^ Atton, Chris (2010). Alternative Media. Sage. p. 47. ISBN 9780761967705.
  9. ^ a b c Munson, Chuck (January 1998). "Your Friendly Neighborhood Infoshop". Maximum RocknRoll. Archived from the original on 4 February 2001. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  10. ^ Firth, Rhiannon (2014). "Critical cartography as anarchist pedagogy? Ideas for praxis inspired by the 56a infoshop map archive". Interface: A Journal for and About Social Movements. 6 (1): 156–184.
  11. ^ a b Dodge, Chris (1998). "Street Libraries: Infoshops and Alternative Reading Rooms". Utne Reader. Archived from the original on 2009. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  12. ^ "The social centres roundup". Freedom. London. 2018-09-23. Retrieved 2019-03-24.

External links[edit]

Infoshop Directories[edit]

Media[edit]