12:02:52Categories: Riots

The poetics of revolt

A journalist just phoned and reminded me that the riots in the French suburbs started this day five years ago.

The 27th of October 2005, two teenagers, Zyed Benna and Bouna Traoré, were burnt to death in a transformer after having been pursued by the police for an identity control. I still remember the very strange TV appearance of the then interior minister Sarkozy, who just hours after their death could state with certainty a lot of things (no police had followed them, they had a criminal record…) without waiting for any inquiry. Then the burning, of cars, schools and public building, started and lasted for three weeks.

I had just cycled through the rain from the kindergarten, under an incredibly dark and low autumn sky, and I was very far away from revolt and poetry that the journalist on the phone wanted to know about. – Yesterday, someone asked about what’s going on in Malmö. In-between the intense and consuming writing of a methods chapter, the exploration of a therapeutic space in slam poetry and the ontological possibilities hidden within slam as ritual in its own right, a 2-years-old’s infectious enthusiasm of everything around us and the necessities of everyday life, I have a vague impression that something’s going on in Malmö, but I can happily admit that I’ve nothing to say about it. The poetics of revolt, on the other hand, one must always be able to say something about.

And I think a little bit about how much I appreciate that the French (and the Greeks) exist, and that they do what we all should be doing. “How can they make all this fuss about having to work until… [that the age of retirement is delayed from 60 to 62 is a journalistic, or political, simplification, but that is not the point here],” people say. It’s not only that, of course. Have we all forgotten how much money the banks got recently? And of course they are fed up with President “clear-with-high-pressure-cleaner” & “Ministry-of-National-Identity” Sarkozy. But neither that is my point here. The point is that they do it, and I like thinking about it as I watch the rain and gray sky and get ready to jump back into the anthropology of therapy and ritual. (And smile while I listen to Nettoyer au Karcher by Keny Arkana :-) )

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