I arrived to Córdoba, Argentina in June to write about La Sofía Cartonera (La Sofia Cardboard Publishing House), part of a project from Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina, that works with AMMAR (Asociación de Mujeres Meretrices), a female sex workers union that advocates for regulations and rights to protect women who engage in this work.
Sexual workers are part of this cultural project at the publishing house: not only do they work hand crafting the books with the other members of La Sofía, but they have also published a book in an attempt to spread their political ideas, called Sexo y trabajo. According to Natalia Armas, one of the members of the project who I have interviewed, the publication of this book is a key moment in the interaction of these two organizations. She is one of the undergraduate students working on this project. La Sofia was previously housed in the Facultad de Filosofía y Humanidades building were they kept their stock and handcrafted books, but they are transitioning now to a new space. Meanwhile, they are working on some common University spaces.
According to to Luciana Sastre, who takes part in a research group on contemporary Latin America literature, the La Sofia Cartonera attempts to deconstruct the idea of the book as something detached from manual production. Also, because these books cost close to US $3, they are easily accessible. Also, because each book is painted in a unique way by one member of La Sofia, there are no two identical cardboard books. There are also workshops at schools or in public places where people can paint books too.
Posted by Francisco Marguch – PhD Candidate in Spanish and Portuguese at NYU