INterview Anthropologist Myriam Congoste participates in a conference organized in Bordeaux on November 16 and 17 in Bordeaux
A group of yellow vest women mobilized in Place de la Bastille, January 6, 2019. — Bertrand GUAY
- Four years after the start of the “yellow vests” movement, which has established itself as one of the most important social mobilizations of recent years, a symposium is organized in Bordeaux.
- One of the speakers, an anthropologist, responds to questions questions from 20 Minutes on the place of women in the movement.
- In a movement for which parity was self-evident, women had a key role in logistics and tried for some to politicize it.
“From the waltz of the roundabouts to the notebooks of anger”, this is the theme of the colloquium which is being held on November 16 and 17 at the Gironde departmental archives, four years after the movement of “yellow vests”. Myriam Congoste, a doctor in anthropology who closely followed the mobilization at; Saint-Macaire, in Gironde, intervenes in particular on the presence of women in this unprecedented mobilization. She accepted; to answer questions from20 Minutes on this subject.
What can be said about the presence of women in this movement? Did they have to impose ?
There have been a lot of women who have had places alongside men, without the question being asked, as is done in societies without a state. I saw it in the assemblies that took place in Saint Macaire, there was systematically a man and a woman and this parity was self-evident for both men and women. This was not one of the topics that was discussed.
What roles did they play?
The women were the keepers of address books, called directories. It’s one of their specificities. There was even a kind of game between them, to know which would have the most important repertoires. This logistics management (truck, wood, equipment, etc.) was crucial for the actions, including demonstrations, to take place. You had to go through them. They also took care of the signs, the display.
Did their participation bring credibility? and longevity to movement?
Yes I believe it. There was a distribution of roles and this allowed the men to put in place, with them, all the actions called “off”. Their involvement made it possible to relieve the men who guarded the huts at night and who had to take over. go back to work after a while. This allowed the movement to hold, on the actions carried out at the tolls as well. They wanted to politicize the movement, in particular by leading writing workshops, with this key idea of creating a democracy without a leader, by and for the people with the tool of the referendum. Citizens' Initiative (RIC).
What profiles emerge among the women mobilized?
The cabins of Saint Macaire are quite representative, I think. There were a lot of representatives of small health personnel; (caregivers, household helpers, ASH, etc.). At Cadillac and Langon, the nurses said it was none of their business and the doctors were more present than them, which is very surprising. But those who have been active sometimes did it in secret, to avoid being sanctioned by the order of doctors.
What are the motivations that led them to ; mobilize?
It’s not an awakening of political consciences but precariousness. who pushed them. They no longer had the means to make ends meet. Women, many of them single moms, were afraid that they couldn't keep going. take care of their children so they have been many in the street. Some do not collect alimony and for those who do, they are very weak, because their former companions are hardly better off than they are.
< strong>Have they been less numerous over the course of the movement which lasted; two years?
It’s a bit more complicated. At the end of the movement, at Saint Macaire, there remained a group of women. But it is true that in demonstration, there were certain groups determined and little by little; little “has “virilized”. We came to a demo to fight it out with the police. And at at that time, most came in protest from 14 to 12 years old. 6 p.m. and at 6 p.m., when tensions began with the police, there. they went home, sometimes to take care of the children or to keep a cabin.
What remains of the “ yellow vests >”four years after the start of the movement?
I think this movement is over. and that it will take other forms if it has to go again. But I also think that some will remain “yellow vests”, getting out of the system as much as possible while cultivating the networks built during the movement. If there are 50% and more people who no longer vote in France, they are part of it. They are imbued with the ideas of survivalism, collapsology and choose a minimalist life, in particular with the construction of autonomous habitats.
Some, including many women, have realized that it was necessary to play politics, and let go. the movement to make alliances. The movement has lost half; of its membership in the attempt at convergence proposed by certain political parties.
Could the recent explosion in fuel prices have revived the movement, in your opinion?
If there is a spark… but I don’t think that is coming. The “yellow vests” rather tend to buy land at; several, at want to create ZADs. They turn their backs on the middle class which did not follow them. In terms of their political model, which can be compared to Switzerland for example, there is a whole maturity. popular at; build, and it will take time.