Lecture - Oliver Davis: (In)security governance in "May '68"
In this talk, Professor Oliver Davis reframes the extensive literature on the policing of protests in Paris in Mai '68 around (i) the concept, borrowed from Critical Security Studies, of the management of (in)security and (ii) policing studies scholar Peter Manning's understanding of the dramaturgical function of policing. In the absence of direct archival evidence about how police felt during May, the talk attempts a reconstruction - based on archival and secondary sources - of officers' experience of insecurity by highlighting the contrast between Mai and customary practice in managing demonstrations as 'co-productions' with the services d'ordre of trade unions and political parties. It is argued that the response of rank-and-file officers to police chief Maurice Grimaud's strategy was widespread insubordination, contrary to the impression given in accounts by Grimaud himself. The role of le Service d'action civique (SAC) as clandestine policing auxiliaries is also discussed.
The talk concludes that the spread of police ways of knowing protestors into the wider population in the last week of May constituted a form of (in)security governance which worked by allowing ordinary people to feel sufficiently afraid to reaffirm their support of the regime and its frontline functionaries.
Oliver Davis is reader in French Studies and co-director of the Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature and the Arts at Warwick University, UK. He has published the critical introduction Jacques Rancière (Polity, 2010), which appeared in German translation in 2014 and is also due out in Farsi later this year, as well as the edited volume Rancière Now (Polity, 2013).
His research interests include contemporary continental philosophy and critical theory, queer theory and modern and contemporary French society and culture. He is writing a theoretical book on French policing, prison and security policy in its relation to bureaucracy, which focuses particularly on techniques and traces the development of today’s securitarian consensus back to the mid-nineteenth century. A foretaste of this book project appeared as an article on techniques of bureaucratic-carceral governance developed at the model reformatory at Mettray, in French History (December 2016).
The organizers wish to thank the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture (CISSC) for their generous financial contributions toward the sponsorship of this lecture.