Out in The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social Theory, fall 2017
Loughborough University, UK
Henri Lefebvre (1901–1991) was one of the most important Marxist theorists, introducing the ordinary to Marxist theory while living an extraordinary life himself. Lefebvre joined the French Communist Party in 1928, and was expelled in the late 1950s, a heterodox voice in a Stalinist, orthodox structure. He joined the French Resistance, became close to the Situationist International and backed the May 1968 revolt.
Lefebvre was born at the dawn of the twentieth century and died in the year that officially ended the Cold War, the era riddled with the potentially catastrophic effects of state and power antagonisms upon the everyday lives of populations caught in their midst – very symbolic for a thinker who departed from traditional paths of Marxist theory to develop a theory encompassing the sphere of everyday life instead, one that read through and beyond the nation-state as its unit of analysis. Lefebvre left behind an extremely large amount of writing that includes more than 60 books and over 300 articles. To summarize these would be impossible. Yet, if one were to outline his legacy, it would be a gross omission not to include, at the very least, Lefebvre’s enhancing of our understanding of everyday life, of the production of space, and of the urban potential for revolution.