Marc-Antoine Pérouse de Montclos

In Nigeria, the Islamic terrorism of Boko Haram raises a lot of questions about the political relationship between so-called "religious" violence and the state. At least three of them expose our confusions about islamization, conversion, radicalization and the politicization of religion, namely:
– Is it a religious uprising or a political contest for power?
– How does it express a social revolt?
– How indicative is it of a radicalization of the patterns of protest of the Muslims in Northern Nigeria?
A fieldwork study shows that Boko Haram is not so much political because it wants to reform the society, but mainly because it reveals the intrigues of a weak government and the fears of a nation in the making. Otherwise, the radicalization of Islam cannot be limited to terrorism and it is difficult to know if the movement is more extremist, fanatic and murderous than previous uprising like the one of Maitatsine in Kano in 1980. The capacity of Boko Haram to develop international connections and to challenge the state is not exceptional as such. Far from the clichés on a clash of civilizations between the North and the South, the specificity of the sect in Nigeria has more to do with its suicide attacks. Yet the terrorist evolution of Boko Haram was first and foremost caused by the brutality of the state repression, more than alleged contacts with an international jihadist movement.

Sabine Saurugger

This article presents conceptual tools to analyse interest representation in the European Union. On the European level, no formal system of representation can be found, but rather a patchwork of representation modes. These modes are influenced by forms of political exchange specific for each country and each political domain, which interact with opportunity structures at the European level. Analysing interest representation in a system of governance, either national, European or international requires taking into account the relations which link interest groups with political and bureaucratic actors at the national level, acknowledging the changes in these relations and to insert all that in a system of governance where actors must find solutions to problems in the management of public policies and not to forget political power games and hierarchies amongst actors. The first part of the article analyses briefly the development of interest group studies in comparative politics as well as in international relations and presents the attempts to systematize these studies undertaken since the 1990. In the second part, I analyse more specifically the network approach, which allows to overcome the cleavage between pluralism and neocorporatism in the study of the relationships between interest groups and state actors. In presenting a critical analysis of the general ideas of the network approach, I propose specific conceptual instruments helping to structure research on interest groups in the European Union.

Laurent Gayer

Cyberspace, of which the Internet is a major but not the exclusive component, is more than an informational or an economic network : it is also a political space, which deserves to be analysed as such, through the collective mobilisations, the imaginary and the surveillance practices that it conveys. Rather than looking at the internet’s world politics, this paper focuses on transnational political solidarities that are now emerging on and through the Internet. This differentiation suggests that the Internet is both the vector of social struggles focused on the “real” world, and the cradle of new identifications and new modes of protest that remain and will remain primarily virtual. Activists operating through transnational “advocacy networks” may use the Internet to receive or spread information, but their use of the Information Technologies (IT) remains purely instrumental and does not imply any paradigmatic shift in the tactical uses of the media by protest groups. “Hacktivism” and “cybernationalism” appear far more promising, as far as the invention of new repertoires of collective action is concerned. “Hacktivism”, which refers to the use of hacking techniques for political ends, emerged during the 1990s, at the crossroads between activism, play and art. The emergence of “hacktivism” was made possible by the meeting of two social actors that epitomize our late modernity : new social movements and the “digital underground”. “Cybernationalism”, for its part, was given shape in the last decade by ethnic entrepreneurs who rely on the IT to challenge the political authorities of their home states and to materialise, through words and images, the communities they are (re)inventing beyond borders.

Anthony Amicelle

The present paper examines current dynamics of surveillance regarding the fight against “terrorism” and its financing. Close analysis of the so-called “SWIFT Affair” and the US terrorist finance tracking program draw attention to one specific case-study which allows us to question the contemporary politics of massively accessing commercial data-banks for intelligence purposes. With reference to the SWIFT affair, the paper explores a sensitive aspect of transatlantic cooperation in the field of counter-terrorism

Thierry Delpeuch

Several prolific research fields dedicate themselves to the analysis of the contemporary phenomena of circulation, transfer and convergence of public policies. These clusters of studies have in common to explore the impact of external influences and foreign sources of inspiration or imitation on policy making process. Two major research orientations can be distinguished among these studies. The first one develops a perspective in the close proximity of the new sociological institutionalism. It scrutinizes the causal grounds and the social impacts of the expansion of policy transfers, by putting the stress on the influence of cultural and institutional factors. The second one, which is related to the sociology of social action, primarily examines the implementation of concrete policy transplant operations from one social context to another, by meticulously investigating the social characteristics of transfer agents and analyzing their interactions. Our argument is that the various approaches covered here – which are sociology of diffusion, new sociological institutionalism, europeanization studies, lesson-drawing and policy learning literature, structural sociology, and, of course, the research stream which identifies itself as policy transfer studies - are today on the way to overcome their divergences and to consolidate a common framework of sociological knowledge about policy transfers, grounded in both holistic and individualistic sociological traditions.

Laurent Gayer

Between 1984 and 1995, the Indian Punjab was the theatre for a separatist insurrectional movement led by Sikh irregular armed groups. Most Sikh militants who picked up the gun against the Indian state were male, but a handful of women also took part in this armed struggle, which also enjoyed some support from Pakistan. Rather than the motivations of the fighters, it is their individual trajectories that are explored here. Following a critical biographical approach, paying attention to the silences of the actors and to the distorting effects of their ex-post testimonies, this paper aims at unraveling the familial genealogies of these militant careers, before identifying their successive sequences. Through this exercise, it is possible to shed light on individual dispositions towards engagement. However, this preliminary exercise must be followed up by an in-depth study of the conditions of actualization of these dispositions into a sustained form of commitment. Therefore, this paper focuses on the modalities of recruitment into clandestine organizations, before turning to the practical and psychological dilemmas induced by the return of these combatants to civilian life, which remain understudied. By introducing gender into the scope of the study, this paper also aims at assessing the variations between masculine and feminine ways of being and having been in clandestinity.