[URBANTH-L]NEWS: the week Paris burned

OlatokunboAdeola Enigbokan enigbo01 at newschool.edu
Sun Nov 6 16:45:58 EST 2005

Do we really believe that some sort of "disciplined knowledge" is what
is needed to "solve issues of deprivation that have been festering for

It seems counter-productive to try to incorporate (and thereby defuse)
the concentrated, visceral response of people trying to effect some sort
of real change in a crippling and crippled system into "important
avenues of research." I highly doubt that there has been a dearth of
"important research" into when people "raise holy hell." In fact I would
say that a significant part of the social sciences' contribution to the
rise of the very systems the Parisians are trying to burn down was due
to the need for soveriegn and disciplinary powers to understand and then
control the hows and whys of people raising hell, through the production
of the very "disciplined knowledge" we tend to value so highly.

To propose that more studies are what are needed is to totally
misunderstand, and possibly even disrespect the impulse to dramatically
address the injustices in everyday life. It is also to assume that the
people rioting do not themselves possess the necessary tools and
knowledge to resolve the problems of which they themselves bear the
brunt. Do they really need more social scientists and policymakers to
make more studies of what's wrong with their situations? 

The riots in Paris are immediate, local, aimed at a particular system.
The machinery of academic discipline is hardly comparable.  The people
in rioting in Parisian suburbs and housing projects are not the same as
the people studying in US universities. It is best not to confuse
writing a dissertation with burning a car. Different endeavours,
different audiences, different goals, different effects.  

Assuming that anthropologists can do more than "argue the finer points
of postmodernism," is to misunderstand one's own position within a
powerful institution, and to disregard the importance of "arguing finer
points." Arguing amongst ourselves is what we do best, and to greatest
effect. Anthropologists, as is true for most academics, WRITE. The power
of the academy lies in its support for the activities of reading,
talking and most of all, writing. Am I sounding too postmodern? This is
not my aim. The postmodern moment was before my time. Please bear with

Changing how we write, to whom we write and from where we write are
among the most important interventions that can be made from the
positions we occupy. I am unclear on what Mr. Macdowell means by
"applied tasks," but I am in support of anthropologists doing high
quality research and writing, which does not presume to speak for or
about people, but aims to open up avenues through which people can begin
to speak to each other, before they have to burn each other's cars.

Adeola Enigbokan
PhD candidate, The New School for Social Research

>>> "Paul" <paulanthropus at cox.net> 11/06/05 1:43 PM >>>
These riots have threefold implications. First, it is a harbinger of
to come if the basic needs of the world's majority are not met. The
globalization advocates had better deliver the goods if their "trickle
theory" holds any water. Second, this provides an important avenue of
research--when do people say "basta" and raise holy hell? Third, it
anthropologists and other social scientists to stop arguing the fine
of postmodernism or some other theory du jour and start applying a
disciplined knowledge to solving the issues of deprvation that have been
festering for decades, indeed centuries.

In short, it's time to get on with the research and applied tasks that
really matter.

Paul McDowell
Santa Barbara City College.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Angela Jancius" <acjancius at ysu.edu>
To: <urbanth-l at lists.ysu.edu>
Sent: Sunday, November 06, 2005 9:31 AM
Subject: [URBANTH-L]NEWS: the week Paris burned

> Violence sweeps France in 10th night of riots
> Alex Duval Smith in Paris and David Smith
> Sunday November 6, 2005
> The Observer
> France was reeling from a 10th night of violence yesterday as rioting
> from the suburbs of Paris to become a nationwide crisis.
> In towns and cities across the country, youths armed with gasoline
> torched scores of vehicles, nursery schools and other targets. Police
> that at least 607 vehicles were set alight, with more than half
> Paris region.
> The Foreign Office yesterday warned British tourists to 'exercise
> care in the affected areas'.
> The mayhem came in direct defiance of a warning from Interior Minister
> Nicolas Sarkozy that rioters faced stiff punishments. He said setting
> on fire could 'cost dear in terms of sentences' and that the
> 'unanimous' about standing firm against violence, which many are
> as France's worst civil unrest since the 1968 student revolts.
> Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin was yesterday forced to call a
> meeting of his ministers and a top Muslim official as the rioting
> to spread.
> Last night five classrooms at the Sleeping Beauty Nursery School in
> in the Essonne region south of Paris, went up in flames as well as two
> classrooms at another school.
> In a measure of public dissatisfaction with the government, Yvan
> the parent of one of the pupils at the Sleeping Beauty school, told
> radio: 'Burning a school is unacceptable but the man who lit the fire
> Sarkozy.'
> By 1am this morning, at least 607 vehicles were burned - 13 of them
> Paris. The overall figures were expected to climb by daybreak.
> The troubles threatened to spiral out of control as arson attacks were
> reported in cities to the north, south, east and west, many known for
> calm, like the cultural bastion of Avignon in southern France and the
> cities of Nice and Cannes, where cars were torched.
> In the Normandy town of Evreux, arson attacks laid waste to at least
> vehicles, part of a shopping centre, a post office and two schools,
> Patrick Hamon, spokesman for the national police.
> He added that five police officers and three firefighters were injured
> battling the blazes.
> Arson was also reported in Nantes, in the south west, in Lille and
> the north and Saint-Dizier, in the Ardennes region east of Paris. In
> eastern city of Strasbourg, 18 cars were set alight in full daylight,
> said. In Toulouse, there were 30 arson attacks.
> Some 2,300 police were being brought into the Paris region to bolster
> security. In the Essonne area south of the city, a recycling factory
> on fire and at least 35 vehicles torched.
> Twenty-eight cars were torched in the Seine-Saint-Denis region, north
> of Paris, where the riots erupted after two teenage boys were
> electrocuted as they hid from police, apparently thinking they were
> pursued. French authorities have denied that police were to blame.
> France-Info radio reported residents catching two 14-year-olds trying
> light a fire in Drancy, north-east of Paris, and turning them over to
> police.
> Even in the heart of Paris three cars were damaged by fire in the
> section, north east of City Hall.
> Meanwhile, earlier yesterday, hundreds of people joined marches in
> suburbs to protest against the violence. In Aulnay-sous-Bois, which
> some of the worst of the rioting, residents walked past burnt-out
> and buildings with banners reading 'No to violence' and 'Yes to
> De Villepin called the emergency cabinet meeting to attempt to regain
> momentum and show a united front. He called on ministers to speed up
> for urban renewal and asked the influential imam of the Paris mosque,
> Boubakeur, to appeal for calm.
> But it was Sarkozy who again came in for attack. After his meeting
with De
> Villepin, Boubakeur launched a veiled attack on the minister's
> which he called the disaffected young men on estates 'louts'.
> Police trade union official Gilles Petit said the rioters would 'stop
> nothing' in their attacks.
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