[URBANTH-L]NEWS: the week Paris burned

Walter Nicholls wnicholl at csulb.edu
Tue Nov 8 00:59:25 EST 2005

Dear Readers,

Mustafa Dikec wrote an interesting article on riots as 
social movements in France.

The references is: Mustafa Dikec(2004) 'Voices into 
noises: Ideological determination of unarticulated justice 
movements', Space & Polity, 8(2): 191-208.

Also, regarding OlatokunboAdeola'smessage: The idea that 
the analysis of inequalities and disadvantaged places only 
makes things worse is problematic. It is true that such 
studies can contribute to legitimating existing 
articulations of power but, they can also identify 
important contradictions in existing power structures 
which can be used advantageously by the powerless and 
potential allies in the state.  While it is certainly 
important to remain critical of our own positioning within 
a power/knowledge matrix, this does not mean that we 
should not study the underlying causes of injustices and 
transfer our intellectual resources to progressive 
political projects.

Also, the idea that these are localized resistances with 
distinct impulses that cannot be sufficiently understood 
seems to reflect essentialist thinking. These are 
certainly localized instances of resistance arising from a 
particular set of circumstances but these particularities 
are nevertheless embedded in larger processes that can be 
understood and acted on. People riot in Paris, Los 
Angeles, London, etc. for many of the same reasons 
(poverty, police repression, racism, etc.) Arguing that 
this particular form of collective action is simply a 
reflection of localized (irrational) passions that cannot 
be explained by social scientists is off the mark.


Walter Nicholls

On Sun, 06 Nov 2005 16:45:58 -0500
  "OlatokunboAdeola Enigbokan" <enigbo01 at newschool.edu> 
> Do we really believe that some sort of "disciplined 
>knowledge" is what
> is needed to "solve issues of deprivation that have been 
>festering for
> decades?" 
> 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 
> 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 
> To propose that more studies are what are needed is to 
> 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 
> 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 
> 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
> me...
> 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.
> Sincerely,
> 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
> things
> 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
> down
> theory" holds any water. Second, this provides an 
>important avenue of
> research--when do people say "basta" and raise holy 
>hell? Third, it
> warns
> anthropologists and other social scientists to stop 
>arguing the fine
> points
> 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
> Instructor
> 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
> swept
>> from the suburbs of Paris to become a nationwide crisis.
>> In towns and cities across the country, youths armed 
>>with gasoline
> bombs
>> torched scores of vehicles, nursery schools and other 
>>targets. Police
> said
>> that at least 607 vehicles were set alight, with more 
>>than half
> outside
> the
>> Paris region.
>> The Foreign Office yesterday warned British tourists to 
> extreme
>> 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
> cars
>> on fire could 'cost dear in terms of sentences' and that 
> government
> was
>> 'unanimous' about standing firm against violence, which 
>>many are
> describing
>> as France's worst civil unrest since the 1968 student 
>> Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin was yesterday 
>>forced to call a
> crisis
>> meeting of his ministers and a top Muslim official as 
>>the rioting
> continued
>> to spread.
>> Last night five classrooms at the Sleeping Beauty 
>>Nursery School in
> Grigny,
>> 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
> Lemaitre,
>> 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
> is
>> Sarkozy.'
>> By 1am this morning, at least 607 vehicles were burned - 
>>13 of them
> inside
>> Paris. The overall figures were expected to climb by 
>> 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
> their
>> calm, like the cultural bastion of Avignon in southern 
>>France and the
> resort
>> cities of Nice and Cannes, where cars were torched.
>> In the Normandy town of Evreux, arson attacks laid waste 
>>to at least
> 50
>> vehicles, part of a shopping centre, a post office and 
>>two schools,
> said
>> 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
> Rennes
> in
>> the north and Saint-Dizier, in the Ardennes region east 
>>of Paris. In
> the
>> eastern city of Strasbourg, 18 cars were set alight in 
>>full daylight,
> police
>> 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
> was
> set
>> on fire and at least 35 vehicles torched.
>> Twenty-eight cars were torched in the Seine-Saint-Denis 
>>region, north
> east
>> of Paris, where the riots erupted after two teenage boys 
> accidentally
>> electrocuted as they hid from police, apparently 
>>thinking they were
> being
>> pursued. French authorities have denied that police were 
>>to blame.
>> France-Info radio reported residents catching two 
>>14-year-olds trying
> to
>> 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
> Republique
>> section, north east of City Hall.
>> Meanwhile, earlier yesterday, hundreds of people joined 
>>marches in
> Paris
>> suburbs to protest against the violence. In 
>>Aulnay-sous-Bois, which
> has
> seen
>> some of the worst of the rioting, residents walked past 
> vehicles
>> and buildings with banners reading 'No to violence' and 
>>'Yes to
> dialogue'.
>> De Villepin called the emergency cabinet meeting to 
>>attempt to regain
> the
>> momentum and show a united front. He called on ministers 
>>to speed up
> plans
>> for urban renewal and asked the influential imam of the 
>>Paris mosque,
> Dalil
>> 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 
> outbursts,
> in
>> which he called the disaffected young men on estates 
>> Police trade union official Gilles Petit said the 
>>rioters would 'stop
> at
>> nothing' in their attacks.
>> _______________________________________________
>> URBANTH-L mailing list
>> URBANTH-L at lists.ysu.edu
>> http://lists.ysu.edu/mailman/listinfo.cgi/urbanth-l
> _______________________________________________
> URBANTH-L mailing list
> URBANTH-L at lists.ysu.edu
> http://lists.ysu.edu/mailman/listinfo.cgi/urbanth-l
> _______________________________________________
> URBANTH-L mailing list
> URBANTH-L at lists.ysu.edu
> http://lists.ysu.edu/mailman/listinfo.cgi/urbanth-l

More information about the URBANTH-L mailing list