Students and faculty are invited to join us for this ICLS Graduate Colloquium presentation.

From 1968 to 1975, street violence became a spectacular facet of Western European protest movements and worker rebellions. By the late Sixties, often in the face of considerable state violence, practical consensus in favor of peaceful demonstrations and strikes was on the way out: the emergence of insurgent actors that employed the paving stone, the pickaxe handle, and the petrol bomb was an overarching tendency within radical political formations and youth subcultures. This paper explores the transnational practices of European “street-fighting man” in the years of revolt around 1968, focusing on France, West Germany, and Northern Ireland. Recovering the practical dimension of street-fighting practices from analyses that have reduced them to ritualized expressions of ideology, the paper argues that at their inception, these tactics threatened to overturn the primarily unidirectional flow of violence from police forces to protesters, obstructing, injuring, enraging, and diverting sizable numbers of police. The ensuing crises within the security forces led to a concerted effort to generate new material practices that in turn redefined the confrontation between demonstrators and the forces or order, founding the contemporary European paradigm of the “maintenance of order.”


Luca Provenzano is a Doctoral Candidate in the History Department/ICLS and the GSAS/Sciences Po 2017/2018 Ph.D. exchange student. He is presenting an excerpt from his dissertation The New Maintenance of Order: Western European Security Forces and the Years of Revolt, 1968-1981.