Voices into Noises: Ideological Determination of Unarticulated Justice Movements

Abstract : This paper looks at incidents of unrest in social housing neighbourhoods in the peripheral areas (banlieues) of French cities in the 1990s. It first focuses on the responses of the French state, and demonstrates how such areas have been constituted as 'menace' and such incidents as 'violence', through the state's discursive articulations. Then, by providing an account focused on the incidents themselves, it argues that these incidents are responses to various forms of injustice, from discrimination and police brutality to constantly increasing unemployment. They are, in other words, manifestations of contention, raising claims for justice, and not merely acts of violence. 'Justice Movements'? This paper is not about 'justice movements'—organised or in the making—as such. It is about the responses of the French state to incidents of social unrest in the banlieues (literally, suburbs) of large cities in France in the early 1990s. Such incidents are not covered in the literature on new social movements in France (see, for example, Waters, 1998; Appleton, 1999). They are not social movements in the more conventional sense either, if one follows Buechler's definition of social movements as " intentional, collective efforts to transform social order " (Buechler, 2000, p. 213). They are neither preconceived nor organised, and they are not articulated as collective efforts aimed at transforming the established order. However, they are not intrinsic acts of violence either. They all mobilise with a demand for justice and/or as reactions against perceived injustices. 'Let justice be done' or 'J'ai la haine', 1 as was heard—again—during the recent incidents in one of the banlieues of Strasbourg, following the 'accidental' killing of a person of immigrant origin by the police with a bullet in the head during a routine police road check (Libération, 22 March 2004)—a form of casualty not uncommon as the triggering incident of unrest in the banlieues (Rajsfus, 2002).
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Space and Polity, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2004, 〈10.1080/1356257042000273959〉
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Mustafa Dikeç. Voices into Noises: Ideological Determination of Unarticulated Justice Movements. Space and Polity, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2004, 〈10.1080/1356257042000273959〉. 〈hal-01274382〉

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