This space is the repository for the papers, presentations (slides, videos, etc) that will form the basis of the CSDH-SCHN 2021 online conference, to take place May 30-June 3rd.

[Book Summary] Hojas fantasmas/Ghost Leaves

A summary of Hojas fantasmas: una mirada al interior de las editoriales cartoneras en México [Ghost Leaves: A Look Into Cardboard Publishers in Mexico]. Bogota, Colombia: Amapola Cartonera, forthcoming.


I would like to begin by acknowledging that Concordia University is located on unceded Indigenous lands. The Kanien’kehá:ka Nation is recognized as the custodians of the lands and waters on which I stand today. Tiohtià:ke/Montréal is historically known as a gathering place for many First Nations. Today, it is home to a diverse population of Indigenous and other peoples. We respect the continued connections with the past, present and future in our ongoing relationships with Indigenous and other peoples within the Montreal community.



“A cardboard book is only a concrete residual trace of a much larger relational process that encompasses closely interlinked social, haptic and sensory activities.”

A cardboard book (or cardboard artifact) is the “relational concretion of a book in a cardboard workshop or a bookbinding session.” In that sense it is a skeuomorphic concretion of an abstract idea of what a “physical” book should be. – Similarity with programming language.


Chapter 1

By 2014 there was still no study in Mexico of what I call in this book the “cartonero” publishing movement. It was Jhonnatan Curiel, co-founder of Kodama with myself and Mavi Robles-Castillo, who prompted me to write “Towards a possible genealogy”, the chapter that opens this book, on the eve of my departure from Tijuana to Montreal. Earlier versions with alternative titles circulated during that year in two independent magazines in Mexico City: Cinosargo (quite abbreviated), edited by César Cortés Vega and Yaxkin Melchy, as well as Radiador Magazine, edited by Daniel Malpica.


Chapter 2

Many inaccuracies or noted in the version published in Radiator Magazine were omitted or corrected in the present volume, thanks to the attentive observations of other collectives, although references to related projects remain fundamental to my argument. The review led to a deepening of certain ideas, which led to the writing of the second chapter. “Nomads” develops one of the multiple themes just suggested above: the international circulation of the cartonero format.


Chapter 3

While the first chapter was born at the juncture of a departure, “E-books and Cardboard Books” results from my encounter with digital humanities and research-creation, two predominant paradigms in current humanistic research in North America. I produced the first draft of this essay in winter 2016 from binding sessions in which I recorded my reflections as part of the process itself and then transcribed and enriched them with documentary research. These reflections emerged under the influence of themes discussed at two seminars on technology as creative practice, offered that year in Montreal by Canadian sound artist and researcher Owen Chapman at Concordia University, as well as by two American scholars, Jonathan Sterne and Emily Dolan at McGill and Harvard, respectively. When I finally had a decent draft of the text, almost two years later, I realized that many ideas had yet to be discussed.

One of the premises of this chapter is that, in fact, the cardboard artifact is born as a direct consequence of the consolidation as a direct consequence of the consolidation in Latin America of the of the technological infrastructure that supports electronic books, which encourages their production and facilitates their access for certain socioeconomic sectors.


Chapter 4

The fourth chapter fulfills a similar function to the second: it delves into issues only partially dealt with in previous texts. “Between marginality and institutionalization” seeks to alleviate the lack of attention to the background of the cartonero artifact in Tijuana, specifically the case of fanzines. (It is worth mentioning that Diego Mora and Flavia Krauss also place fanzines and Brazilian string literature, respectively, as direct references to the cartonero format in Argentina). The discussion ends in an evaluation of the influence exercised by cultural and educational institutions in the conformation and commercialization of “alternative” canons, of which cartonero publishers and fanzines are perfect examples. The history of misunderstandings and conflicts between the Tijuana Cultural Center and the city’s artistic cultural guild serves as a case study to understand how the co-optation of marginal artistic discourses operates in the US-Mexico border.


Cardboard Bookbinding Stages (Spanish/English/French)


  • Etapa creativa/creative stage/étape de création littéraire
  • Edición/Editing/Edition
  • Diagramación/Layout/Mise en page
  • Impresión/Printing/Impression
  • Recolección del cartón/Cardboard picking/Collecte du cartón
  • Encuadernado/Binding /Reliure
  • Decoración/Decoration/Décoration
  • Distribución/Distribution/Distribution


Useful Links


Latin American Cartonera Publishers Collection, U Wisconsin-Madison


Cartonera Books at UW-Madison (older database) – Includes a quick list of cartonera publishers by country


Akademia Cartonera: A Primer of Latin American Cartonera Publishers (TEI version)


Kodama Cartonera Scribd, Issuu, and Tumblr accounts

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