Theses Doctoral

Under the Paving Stones: Militant Protest and Practices of the State in France and the Federal Republic of Germany, 1968-1977

Provenzano, Luca

This dissertation investigates the protest cultures of social revolutionary groups during and after the events of 1968 in France and West Germany before inquiring into how political officials and police responded to the difficulties of maintaining public order. The events of 1968 led revolutionaries in both France and West Germany to adopt new justifications for militant action based in heterodox Marxism and anti-colonial theory, and to attempt to institutionalize new, confrontational modes of public protest that borrowed ways of knowing urban space, tactics, and materials from both the working class and armed guerrilla movements. Self-identifying revolutionaries and left intellectuals also institutionalized forums for the investigation of police interventions in protests on the basis of testimonies, photography, and art. These investigative committees regularly aimed to exploit the resonance of police violence to promote further cycles of politicization. In response, political officials and police sought after 1968 to introduce and to reinforce less ostentatious, allegedly less harmful means of crowd control and dispersion that could inflict suffering without reproducing the spectacle of mass baton assaults and direct physical confrontations—means of physical constraint less susceptible to unveiling as violence. Second, police reinforced surveillance and arrest units. The new tactics of the police borrowed their principles from the struggle against subversion, criminality, and terrorism in order to neutralize the small-group tactics of militant demonstrators. Thus, 1968 served as the point of emergence of a confrontational protest culture within the New Left that in turn provoked the re-articulation of practices of the state. It was a revolution in the counter-revolution.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Moyn, Samuel
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 23, 2020