Masses, Popular Revolts and Representatives of Marginality in Politics

This theme relies upon the intersection of three fields of enquiry. One is the reconsideration of the traditional history of popular revolts, peasant wars, revolutions, mass movements from an anthropological perspective, with an attention to the ritual, millenarian patterns in these events, the carnivalesque features of the "world turned upside down" (Natalie Zemon Davis, Le Roy Ladurie), the "moral economy" of the crowd (E.P. Thompson), and the social networks behind them. In this process representatives of the marginal sphere have been sometimes acclaimed as special charismatic saviors intruding into the sphere of politics. A second set of insights could be gained from the multiplication of the studies on violent clashes against (and also among) religious or ethnic minorities, manifestations of anti-Semitism, and the impact of all this upon higher and local spheres of politics. This ultimately leads, to a third field, the micro-historical examination of violent crowd action, lynching, scapegoat mechanisms (René Girard), witch-hunts, etc., relying upon the innovative historical anthropological analyses of the latter (K. Thomas, Alan Macfarlane, Robin Briggs). Insights of modern sociology of subcultures (Park, Hebdidge) could provide a useful stating point for the analysis of violent political upheavals in modern urban context.

Possible panels within this area