City of Light, City of Darkness

I’ve long been interested in cities under military occupation, and in particular in the ways in which armies spatialise the city in order to securitise it.  I still have a detailed presentation on the French occupation of Cairo at the end of the eighteenth century – for Edward Said the formative and diagnostic moment in the formation of a distinctively modern Orientalsim – and the US occupation of Baghdad at the beginning of the twenty-first.  The parallels are as striking as the differences, and one of these days I know I have to find the time to convert the image-stream into a word-stream.

So this explains why a new book on Paris under German occupation in the Second World War caught my eye.

DRAKE Paris at warDavid Drake‘s Paris at War, 1939-1945 from Harvard/Belknap was published last month:

Paris at War chronicles the lives of ordinary Parisians during World War II, from September 1939 when France went to war with Nazi Germany to liberation in August 1944. Readers will relive the fearful exodus from the city as the German army neared the capital, the relief and disgust felt when the armistice was signed, and the hardships and deprivations under Occupation. David Drake contrasts the plight of working-class Parisians with the comparative comfort of the rich, exposes the activities of collaborationists, and traces the growth of the Resistance from producing leaflets to gunning down German soldiers. He details the intrigues and brutality of the occupying forces, and life in the notorious transit camp at nearby Drancy, along with three other less well known Jewish work camps within the city.

The book gains its vitality from the diaries and reminiscences of people who endured these tumultuous years. Drake’s cast of characters comes from all walks of life and represents a diversity of political views and social attitudes. We hear from a retired schoolteacher, a celebrated economist, a Catholic teenager who wears a yellow star in solidarity with Parisian Jews, as well as Resistance fighters, collaborators, and many other witnesses.

Drake enriches his account with details from police records, newspapers, radio broadcasts, and newsreels. From his chronology emerge the broad rhythms and shifting moods of the city. Above all, he explores the contingent lives of the people of Paris, who, unlike us, could not know how the story would end.

Here is the Contents list:

Prologue
Introduction: The Road to War: September 1938–September 1939
1. The Phoney War: September 3, 1939–May 10, 1940
2. Blitzkrieg and Exodus: May 10, 1940–June 14, 1940
3. Parisians and Germans, Germans and Parisians
4. Paris, German Capital of France
5. Unemployment, Rationing, Vichy against Jews, Montoire
6. From Mass Street Protest to the “Führer’s Generous Gesture”
7. Protests, Pillaging, “V” for Victory, the First Roundup of Jews
8. Resistance and Repression
9. Resistance, Punishment, Allied Bombs, and Deportation
10. SS Seizure of Security, the Yellow Star, the Vél’d’hiv’ Roundup, La Relève
11. Denunciations, Distractions, Deprivations
12. Labour Conscription, Resistance, the French Gestapo
13. Anti-Bolshevism, Black Market, More Bombs, Drancy
14. A Serial Killer on the Run, Pétain in Paris, the Milice on the Rampage, the Allies on Their Way
15. The Liberation of Paris
Conclusion

For a principled contemporary account, incidentally, and one that reverberates with the power of the literary sensibility that was so repugnant to the Nazis, it’s hard to beat Jean Guéhenno‘s Diary of the Dark Years, 1940-1944: Collaboration, Resistance, and Daily Life in Occupied Paris.

The security archipelago

AMAR Security archipelagoA new book from the ever-creative Paul Amar coming this summer from Duke: The Security Archipelago: Human-Security States, Sexuality Politics, and the End of Neoliberalism. Paul wins the prize for getting the most buzz-words into a single title. Our paths crossed most recently in Beirut, at a lively conference at AUB on Security of/in the city, and last year in Lund for a workshop on the Arab uprisings.  For the next two years he’s heading a regional working-group for the Arab Council of the Social Sciences called “Producing the Public: Spaces and Power” (more on this soon).

Paul is a wonderfully engaging speaker and a brilliant writer, but if you don’t know his work you can get a small taste of his argument in this paper on ‘Turning the gendered politics of the human security state inside out?’ for an IPSA-EPCR panel on ‘Governing life globally’ in Sao Paolo and from this excellent interview on ‘Middle East Masculinities’ at Jadaliyya at about the same time; there are other PDFs available from his webpage at UC Santa Barbara here.

The book paints on a canvas that stretches far beyond the ‘Middle East’:

In The Security Archipelago, Paul Amar provides an alternative historical and theoretical framing of the refashioning of free-market states and the rise of humanitarian security regimes in the Global South by examining the pivotal, trendsetting cases of Brazil and Egypt. Addressing gaps in the study of neoliberalism and biopolitics, Amar describes how coercive security operations and cultural rescue campaigns confronting waves of resistance have appropriated progressive, antimarket discourses around morality, sexuality, and labor. The products of these struggles—including powerful new police practices, religious politics, sexuality identifications, and gender normativities—have traveled across an archipelago, a metaphorical island chain of what the global security industry calls “hot spots.” Homing in on Cairo and Rio, Amar reveals the innovative resistances and unexpected alliances that have coalesced in new polities emerging from the Arab Spring and South America’s Pink Tide. These have generated a shared modern governance model that he terms the “human-security state.”

Richard Falk describes it as ‘an extraordinary book that revolutionizes the way to think about security’ – and about time too.  Like much high-flying academic commentary on war, much of the critical debate around security displays a theoretical sophistication that is not matched by analytical substance.   Paul’s work has always avoided that trap, and Jack Halberstam‘s endorsement makes it plain that this is a book that combines erudition with empirical heft:

Paul Amar works in English, Arabic, and Portuguese [and in Spanish too], and he studies security regimes in a comparative framework encompassing the Middle East, North and South America, and Europe. Combining research that he has done in Brazil and Egypt on the emergence of new forms of security and new grammars of protest politics with the unfolding stories of an economic boom in Brazil and political change in Egypt, Amar has written an up-to-the-moment account of the ‘human-security state’ and its opponents.

Here’s a list of the Contents:

Introduction. The Archipelago of New Security-State Uprisings
1. Mooring a New Global Order between Cairo and Rio de Janeiro: World Summits and Human-Security Laboratories
2. Policing the Perversions of Globalization in Rio de Janeiro and Cairo: Emerging Parastatal Security Regimes Confront Queer Globalisms
3. Muhammad Atta’s Urbanism: Rescuing Islam, Saving Humanity, and Securing Gender’s Proper Place in Cairo
4. Saving the Cradle of Samba in Rio de Janeiro: Shadow-State Uprisings, Urban Infranationalisms, and the Racial Politics of Human Security
5. Operation Princess in Rio de Janeiro: Rescuing Sex Slaves, Challenging the Labor-Evangelical Alliance, and Defining the Sexuality Politics of an Emerging Human-Security Superpower
6. Feminist Insurrections and the Egyptian Revolution: Harassing Police, Recognizing Classphobias, and Everting the Logics of the Human-Security State in Tahrir Square 200
Conclusion. The End of Neoliberalism?