CE39 - Sécurité Globale et Cybersécurité

Ethnography of guerrillas and riots : subjective training, emotions and sensitive experience of immediate violence – EGR

Submission summary

This research project is a response to the observation that we still do not know how violence is experienced in its immediacy. The social experience of political violence denotes repertoires of heterogeneous actions: actors who form political action groups seeking to inflict material, psychological, human, and symbolic damage on individuals or institutions, with the aim of bringing about political, social, and cultural change (Bosi, 2012: 172). Our research will focus on the case of armed insurrections (Syria, Iraq) and riots (Anarchiste-Autonome in France/Black-Blocks) in an effort to expand upon the studies that we have undertaken since 2012. Since 2012, we have conducted a number of ethnographic studies in :

- Brigade de l'armée syrienne Libre, Alep, summer 2012, december, january 2012
- Brigade du Islamic's Front, Hama, April 2014 and september 2014
- Brigade YPG, Iraq, June 2017.
- Ethnography inside "black blocks" groups (anarchist group), in Rennes, Nantes et Paris since 2012 and observation of more than 50 riots inside black blocks.

France (immersion for a number of years in black blocks in Paris and Rennes and observation of approximately fifty riots alongside black block members), the Ukraine (a stay in 2013), Syria (4 stays of multiple weeks between 2012 and 2014 within an Islamic Front brigade), and Iraq (a stay in 2017 with Kurdish forces in Syria).

Our aim, which follows in the wake of the interactionist studies of violence conducted by R. Collins (2004, 2008) is to reconstruct the subjective training of actors by focusing attention on the moment of violence as a "decisive moment" in the carrying out and continuation of violence. The goal is to theorize violent subjectivity not in order to examine its psychological aspects, but instead to grasp how the everyday and its social mediations (socialization, ideologies, perceptive frameworks, sensitive experience of violence) help form a certain relation to the self, others, and the world. Beginning with the principle that social experiences (reflexiveness, motivations, behavior) are fashioned through interaction, the new position proposed here is that the disposition of individuals to violence is acquired during the very course of the action, which familiarizes the individual to violence as it unfolds. Violence is therefore understood as an "interactional performance" produced in a situation structured by a plurality of heterogeneous and sometimes contradictory emotions.
This cross-disciplinary position will converge with four complementary and inherent objectives:

" Objective 1. The ordinary life of combatants and rioters (mediation, socialization, and subjective training).
" Objective 2. Rationalization and justifications of violence.
" Objective 3. The affective dimension of violence.
" Objective 4. Epistemology and methodology: how to give an account of violence and its effects on the researcher's subjectivity.

The purpose of developing research in these two areas is not to compare them, but rather to gather more empirical material and to test interpretations of violence as it occurs, which are not mutually exclusive. Both cases involve social situations of radical violence that notably affect the subjectivity of those carrying them out. These situations of violence engender disorder and even a collapse of the world, which causes individuals to lose clarity in their perspective toward everyday life, and blurs their usual patterns of interpreting the world. The central issue is to grasp how combatants and rioters coexist with one another during times of violence, which is to say in a context of intense adversity when social relations and material configurations are generally precarious.

Project coordination

Romain Huët (Plurilinguismes, représentations, Expressions, Francophones, Information, Communication, Sociolinguistique)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


PREFics Plurilinguismes, représentations, Expressions, Francophones, Information, Communication, Sociolinguistique

Help of the ANR 261,695 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: September 2018 - 48 Months

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