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Le refus de la violence. Vies de femmes, entre l'Algérie et la France

Abstract : My research stems from a strong interest for experiences and explorations able to blur the lines of division between genders. As an anthropologist, I endeavored to seize this trouble through an inquiry allowing to bring to light the modes of embodiment of gender assignments and the possibles created by those who, in a moment of their life, have rejected them. First of all, I have observed beside Algerian feminists established in Paris the wording of a specific enunciation. On the one side, it passed on the news about the feminist movement which in Algeria publicly denounced violences against women. On the other side, it revealed an attempt to condemn the violences to which women who took refuge in France have been subjected to while avoiding to play into the hands of Islamophobia. Then I looked to meet with women who ran away from home because of punches, insults, humiliations they endured within it. I went to see associations based in France and Algeria where previous encounters sent me. Finally I got away from these frameworks to follow women in their infinite movement to configure again their lives. Drawing upon their accounts, I showed how, in a context of migration, the logics of an embodiment of gender assignments are disrupted by the refusal of masculine authority and brutality. To comprehend this refusal in all its complexity, it is important to consider it as a process. For a long time, escape and refusal seemed to become mixed up in my understanding. It is only as our relationships were forged that they told me about the series of go back and forth that had preceded a non-reversible departure. For all that, to return has never meant to agree to. It has required unremitting measures being aimed at anticipating blows and insults. And for the escape to be performed they had to annihilate the anticipation regime specific to fear. What made them run away has, thus, exceeded the repetition of bullyings, insults and humiliations. If they put an end to an everyday life of which they accommodated themselves to until then, it is because some desires continued to motivate them - to live a blooming sexuality, to bear witness in order to encourage women from the next generations not to repeat what they have done (to remain at home thinking that the situation would get better)...The escape has also required a place where to stay in order to foresee an another meaning to give to their lives. It is where collective and individual histories met. Each taking decision is only the completion of a succession of choices that falls within a given historical situation. In the 90s, Algerian militant women took over the state rhetoric of denunciation of violences committed by armed groups to propose another enunciation: every kind of violence and not only the armed one is intolerable. They also created the places where women could take refuge. Since then, women passing through these places could find there a shelter, a condition to make the refusal effective. Therefore the power contained in the initial refusal could have been released creating a new possible: to formulate a multitude of other refusals, which can only be understood in relation with the ordeals these women have been confronted to. Indeed, breaking away from a masculine figure of authority exposed them to the stigma of the rupture, they have forced to live another kind of isolation and exclusion. Caught by the institutions to whom they asked protection the meaning of their escape has been put into the pre-existent category of victims of a retrograde gendered order. These mechanisms of fixation invisibilized the political dimension contained in the refusal. Besides they have been relegated to the domestic sphere for survival. In other words, the reconfiguration of their lives found itself again trapped by the redeployment, in France like in Algeria, of gender assignments. To refuse to get married to obtain legal documents or to do housework to provide for ones needs, are as many refusals that thus have taken shape and meaning within the play of distance and becoming closer that women have established with the rest of the societies that marginalized them. And within the very conditions of survival, they have been obliged to modify the modalities of their displacements in the public space overcoming their fears. Within the distanciation with the gendered order has then occurred a displacement in the perception and qualification of themselves as subjects. Objects of masculine will of appropriation, they became subjects of desires and of projections in the future. Through the many twists and turns taken by lives irreparably transformed by the rejection of masculine authority and brutality, my research has then proposed an exploration of the memory of bodies that bear in themselves the residue of gender assignments.
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Contributor : Clotilde Lebas <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, May 7, 2014 - 2:20:19 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, April 2, 2020 - 1:28:50 PM

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  • HAL Id : tel-00988109, version 1

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Clotilde Lebas. Le refus de la violence. Vies de femmes, entre l'Algérie et la France. Anthropologie sociale et ethnologie. Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), 2013. Français. ⟨tel-00988109⟩

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