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Adopting a Resistance Lens

An Exploration of Power and Legitimacy in Transitional Justice

Julie Bernath and Sandra Rubli

Drawing from the critical scholarship on transitional justice and from studies of resistance, this article brings together different observations of resistance, including different sets of actors, forms and motives of resistance, and analyzes their implications for power and legitimacy in contexts of transition. The article argues that the analytical value of resistance lies in the original vantage point it provides for an engagement with questions of power and legitimacy that inform transitional justice processes, but that are often difficult to identify on an empirical level. In doing so, it proposes a “resistance lens,” that is, an explicit focus on resistance that is based on a relational understanding to resistance, in order to move beyond simplistic conceptions of resistance in transitional justice scholarship that mainly approach resistance as resulting from a lack of political will of the powerful elite to implement supposedly universal transitional justice models.

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Reproduction, Resistance and Hope

The Promise of Schooling for Boys

Michael C. Reichert and Joseph Nelson

Extended editorial introduction to a double special issue on boys and schooling. Adopting a developmental perspective on boyhood, the editors frame these special issues on boys' education by reviewing research on their experience of schooling. In particular, they endeavor to illuminate boys' agency and opportunities they can find in schools for resistance to restrictive masculine regimes.

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Place and resistance

Narratives of living in Serbia's 1990s

Zala Volčič

This article, based on ethnographic research in Serbia, analyzes the topics of identity, memory and urban resistance in Serbia through an analysis of forty interviews with young Serbian intellectuals aged 23 to 35. I focus on the themes that recur in my informants' discourses on (national) spaces of belonging of the 1990s. My concern here is with making links between questions of memory, identity, belonging, resistance and space.

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Gramsci in and beyond resistances

The search for an autonomous political initiative among a subaltern group in the Beninese savanna

Riccardo Ciavolella

Stemming from a Gramscian approach, this article engages with the anthropological debate about subaltern groups’ forms of resistance by using the case of marginalized Fulani groups of pastoral and nomadic origins in northwest Benin. Their experiences seemingly confirm contemporary theories on resistance, which emphasize subaltern people’s capacities to tactically circumvent exploitation and exclusion and to handle contradictions between different “moral economies.” Nevertheless, one should question the impact of small-scale reactions that remain on the infrapolitical level and the emancipatory role that political theories give to tactical forms of resistance of dispersed subjectivities while refusing collective strategies. Grounding Gramscian theories in ethnography, this article wonders about the possibilities and limits of margins to turn into the scene of an “autonomous political initiative” of a subaltern group.

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Analyzing Resistance to Transitional Justice

What Can We Learn from Hybridity?

Briony Jones

A focus on understanding and managing the reactions of affected populations has led to hybridity’s being an important part of the discussions about, and applications of, transitional justice. However, despite the presence of “resistance” as a component in theories of hybrid peace, there is limited in-depth theoretical or empirical work on resistance to transitional justice. Th e content of this article addresses this gap in two main ways. First, it asks what we can learn from theories of hybrid peace about resistance to transitional justice. Second, it proposes a particular approach to resistance that would allow for a more dynamic and ultimately more useful understanding of resistance to transitional justice. Th e argument presented here states not only that we must seek to understand the nature of resistance as a part of hybridity, but we must do so by analyzing the relational process through which acts come to be defined as resistance.

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Resistance, Rebirth, and Redemption

The Rhetoric of White Supremacy in Post-Civil War Louisiana

Marek D. Steedman

Did white supremacists successfully appeal to a right of resistance in Louisiana in the 1870s? I argue that they did. White supremacists self-consciously defended their own actions within the framework of an Anglo-American discourse of resistance against tyrannical government, and they broadly succeeded in convincing fellow (white) citizens. Can we deny them the cover of legitimacy this tradition affords? We might suggest that a right to resist is rendered void by the fact that white supremacists were resisting constitutional democracy itself. I argue against this strategy (or, more precisely, for a right to resist constitutional democratic government), and suggest that the problem is not what white supremacists were fighting against. The right to resist is bound up with a defense of the just demands of the people, and this claim, as articulated by white supremacists, rests on decidedly shaky ground. Deciding the issue, however, is a matter of political contestation.

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Negotiating the Resistance

Catch 22S, Brokering, and Contention within Occupy Safer Spaces Policy

Samantha Fletcher

In the post-2008 financial crisis climate we have seen a plethora of protest movements emerge globally with one of the most recognizable, particularly in the western context, being that of the Occupy movement, which sought to contest the global accumulation of wealth by the few, at the expense of the many. Such protest movements have paved the way for old and new, often contentious, dialogues pertinent for a variety of disciplines and subject matters. Drawing upon both emerging narratives from the movement within the published literature and the authors own empirical interview data with participants at a variety of Occupy sites, this article discusses to what extent the Occupy movement negotiates its existence with the hegemonic state-corporate nexus through its Safer Spaces Policy. The paper concludes that the counter-hegemonic endeavors of resistance movements can be compromised, through the coercion and consent strategies of the powerful working in tandem, resulting in a movement that both opposes and emulates what it seeks to contest. Such discussion can ultimately contribute to the longevous discourses pertaining to how hegemonic power operates not just on but through people.

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Deanna Dadusc

This article will analyse the power relations involved in social movement research, exploring alternative epistemological practices that resist and subvert academic conventions in order to create new modes of knowing. I will critique the production of a knowledge that aims at liberation and emancipation by conducting research 'about' or 'on behalf of' social movements, and I will show how this approach might lead to their very subjection. It will be argued that, in order to avoid the reproduction of power relations they seek to resist, research practices need to go beyond dialectical modes of knowing, departing from assumptions of the subject/object of knowledge, of objective/subjective research and from the hierarchy between theory and praxis. A precedent is found in the research approaches of post-colonial, activist, and queer studies that seek to experiment different modes of knowing, based not on observation and participation, but on learning from the experience of resistance in social movements: in this way resistant practices become an epistemological perspective rather than an object of study, and research can become a tool of resistance.

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Ludivine Broch

In recent decades historians have done a lot to reveal the social and political diversity of the people who participated in the French Resistance. But little has been said about non-white resisters who were among the 200,000 men and women from the colonies living in the French metropole during the Occupation. This article shows that many of them were entangled in the Resistance as early as the summer of 1940 and that they became involved in the most political and violent forms of defiance. Resistance, however, was not a “natural” decision for many of the colonial workers or prisoners, whose daily struggles could bring them into tension with the Free French as well as Vichy. So, if this study aims to rectify misconceptions of the Resistance as an entirely Eurocentric affair, it also probes the complicated relationship between colonial subjects and the metropole during the war.

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Olivier Wieviorka

*The full text version of this article is in French

English Abstract:

Historians generally consider resistance in Europe as a national phenomenon. This vision is certainly accurate, but forgets one important datum: the Allies have played a decisive part in European resistance, by recognizing (or not) governments in exile, by authorizing (or not) the free access to the BBC, and by using their secret services (mainly the Special Operations Executive, SOE, and the Office of Strategic Services, OSS). This article tries to show how this action has shaped resistance in Western Europe, and given to the Anglo-Americans a leading part in clandestine action—even if national powers, in one way or another, have resisted this hegemony.

French Abstract:

La résistance en Europe a le plus souvent été considérée comme un combat national, tant par les hommes et les femmes qui y ont participé que par les historiens qui ont, par la suite, tenté de l’analyser. Sans contester ce schéma, il convient sans doute de l’enrichir, en admettant que l’intervention des Britanniques, puis des Américains, a contribué à européaniser la résistance. En la pliant à un modèle organisationnel unique tout d’abord ; en imposant des structures de commandement et une stratégie identiques ensuite ; en légitimant les pouvoirs en exil enfin. Ces interventions ont au total amené à une homogénéisation de l’armée des ombres sur le Vieux Continent, sans que les résistances nationales n’aliènent, pour autant, leur identité propre.