Critique internationale

Revue comparative de sciences sociales

Couverture Critique Internationale

Critique internationale is a quarterly French-language journal published by Presses de Sciences Po, with the help of the Centre national du livre. A peer-reviewed journal, it has been supported by the Centre de recherches internationales (CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS) since its creation in October 1998.

A comparative social sciences journal, Critique internationale aims to shed light on the social sciences of politics from a comparative and empirical perspective. Articles submitted to the journal must therefore be based upon a detailed knowledge of the area(s) studied, acquired by researchers during localized studies and long-term immersion. At the same time, this approach must be accompanied by a solid grounding in the issue of research in social sciences debates.

The editorial committee is made up of individuals specializing in international issues (including transfer of norms, the transnationalization of collective action and public policy, the role of international organizations and NGOs in numerous crises or in the routine life of the “countries of the South,” and migration) in places (other than France) across all five continents. Anthropologists, sociologists, historians, and political scientists, its members come from various institutions (CNRS, IRD, FNSP, EHESS, universities) and vibrant research centers in both France and further afield, where comparative studies and studies on international issues provide a variety of perspectives on the way in which research is conducted today.

At the same time, Critique internationale continues to place particular focus on supporting young researchers in their first publishing and project coordination endeavors, while also ensuring that work produced by foreign colleagues is published in its pages.

Each quarter, a thematic dossier of five or six articles presents several case studies based on a cross-cutting issue. What makes Critique internationale distinctive is that each time, this dossier deals with far removed geographical and cultural entities. Together with the miscellaneous contributions that are published in each issue’s “Varia” section, these thematic studies provide particularly rich material for social scientific comparison. The “Readings” section offers reviews as well as reports on the state of thematic literature, allowing for an assessment of the research in a given field.

The journal accepts articles in English, Spanish, Russian, and German, and provides authors with feedback on their manuscripts in the language in which they submitted them. These manuscripts are then translated into French. Critique internationale also translates articles originally written in French or another language into English. These articles, as well as the entire collection, are available online on the journal portal

ISSN paper 1290-7839

ISSN electronic 1777-554X

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N°81 - Content



No Abstract


Thema - Les petits professionnels de l’international
Edited by Romain Lecler, Yohann Morival and Yasmine Bouagga


No Abstract


Pour une ethnographie des professionnels de l’international
Romain Lecler, Yohann Morival and Yasmine Bouagga


No Abstract


Être réfugié et « volontaire » : les travailleurs invisibles des dispositifs d’aide internationale
Leila Drif

[Refugees and “Volunteers”: The Invisible Workers of International Aid Programs]
International aid is not only characterized by its dependence on resources. The very way that its redistributive efforts are organized has the effect of putting some beneficiaries “to work” via remunerated volunteer activity. In Lebanon, in a context marked by a limited access to labor market, this phenomenon has spread among Syrian refugees and aid workers alike, whether those of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees or its local partners. In Beirut and Tripoli, the fact that these displaced Syrians are scattered across urban environments has made the issue of accessing beneficiaries central, particularly on the margins of such operations, places where humanitarian agents are not always free to travel. Tasks meant to be internally carried out by NGOs are thus conferred upon Syrian refugees, who constitute a new link in the system of aid delivery and are themselves beneficiaries of these organizations. I examine this aspect of the informal work performed by Syrian refugees – a reflection of the survival economy and/or small-scale professionalization – by profiling those involved in it and the paths that took them there.

Les marins de commerce, des professionnels des flux internationaux très ancrés dans le national
Claire Flécher

[Commercial Seamen: International Trade Professionals Firmly Rooted in the National]
At first glance, the maritime transport sector is a global industry par excellence, just as the seamen employed aboard its commercial vessels constitute an ideal-type of international worker. Yet, though they work in multinational groups, sail on all of the world’s seas on behalf of global clients and in accordance with international regulations, these seamen hold jobs and pursue careers that remain very much bound up with national frameworks. Evidence of this may be found in the operation of the maritime labor market, which, while indeed international in scale, is nevertheless highly segmented, with employment conditions strongly varying depending on the seamen’s nationality. In work groups, this situation leads to the ethnicization of social relations and differentiated relationships to work. It is reflected in the manner in which work is distributed and space shared aboard ship in keeping with considerations in which criteria of status and ethno-racial identity intersect.

Politiques d’engagement ou d’employabilité ? Concurrences au sein des programmes de volontariat à Madagascar
Florence Ihaddadene

[Involvement or Employability Policies? Competition within the Volunteer Programs in Madagascar]
The youths of La Réunion suffer from a situation of lasting unemployment and, lately, they have been increasingly encouraged to become involved in international solidarity programs. One of their destinations of choice is the neighboring island of Madagascar (although it has been in the throes of a major political crisis for almost ten years now), where the young natives of La Réunion take up jobs as International Solidarity Volunteers or Foreign Civil Servants. Thanks to a field study conducted in Antananarivo (Madagascar), La Réunion and mainland France, we are able to examine these hybrid statuses (as these workers are neither employees nor volunteers) and the public policies that promote them. While these international volunteer programs sometimes act as an enthusiastic incitation to get one’s foot in the door of the working world, and sometimes as a simple means to employ the unemployed, they also exist within the scope of the triangular relationship linking mainland France, its overseas départements and its former colonies. In order to understand the reorganization and reproduction these programs promote in a post-colonial context, it is therefore essential to consider both their practical effects on the young workers’ path and the managerial changes they foster in local associations.

Une nouvelle élite dans les métiers de l’international : les expatriés africains d’Épicentre et leurs rapports professionnels avec les employés locaux
Mamane Sani Souley Issoufou

[A New Elite in the Field of International Aid: The Epicentre’s African Expatriates and Their Professional Relations with Local Employees]
This study concerns the emergence of a new cosmopolitan elite within the field of international aid: the African expatriates recruited by Epicentre, an epidemiological research center created by the humanitarian organization, Doctors Without Borders. Drawing upon multi-situated ethnographic research in Niger, Paris and Geneva, this article considers the trajectories of these expatriates and their complex socio-professional relations with local staff. The involvement of expatriate Africans reflects the region’s worsening security context, which has resulted in the departure of whites and thus the end of their physical involvement in the activities of the international NGOs present in Niger. Yet while the actors of Epicentre present it as an opportunity to promote a new type of employee, this phenomenon is part of a global process that, by discrediting local employees in preference to expatriates, contributes to the continuity of relations of North-South domination.

Crise humanitaire ou crise de l’humanitaire ? Émergence et recomposition de l’espace professionnel de l’aide internationale en Haïti
Jan Verlin

[Humanitarian Crisis or Crisis of the Humanitarian Sector? The Emergence and Reorganization of International Aid as a Professional Domain in Haiti]
Drawing upon a study of the multiple interactions that existed between actors in the international aid sector in Haiti between 2010 and 2016, I examine the emergence of and challenges to frontiers between international aid professionals in a context marked by the multiplication and entanglement of these actors’ areas of specialization. To do so, I focus on an object of intermediate size, the organization of the humanitarian sector in Haiti, on the basis of participant observation of the meeting and work spaces of humanitarian personnel. I begin by describing the actors’ trajectories in order to explain the unquestioned manner in which the humanitarian sector asserted itself in Haiti. I next consider the manner in which the frontiers of this sector became unstable as a result of a legitimacy crisis affecting international aid in Haiti.

L’espace supranational de l’Union européenne : politiques sociales et migratoires aux prises avec la territorialité post-souveraine
Ulrike Jureit, Nikola Tietze

[The Supranational Space of the European Union: Social and Migratory Policy at Grips with Post-Sovereign Territoriality]
At the intersection of the sociology of the state and institutional categorizations, on the one hand, and the history of sovereignty and the law, on the other, this article adopts an historical perspective to revisit the semantics that structure the manner in which the words “territory” and “space” are used. Drawing upon the concept of post-sovereign territoriality, it seeks to shed light on the principles of spatial organization of the European Union. One of its major findings is that the interdependence of guaranteed free circulation (internally) and ever more strict controls on movement (externally) conflict with the normative principles that have since 1950 supplied the pivotal justifications for European integration: the freedom of movement, equality of treatment, access to economic prosperity and the condemnation of nationalist and racist violence. This conflict is reflected in the conflictual constellations and the contradictions that today characterize social and migratory policies in the member states as well as European enlargement policy.

Mobiliser aux frontières de l’Europe ? La construction militante de l’enjeu migratoire en Sicile (1980-2010)
Marie Bassi

[Mobilizing at the Borders of Europe? The Activist Construction of the Migration Issue in Sicily (1980-2010)]
Sicily and the small island of Lampedusa, which is part of it, are today associated with images of migrants arriving by sea, shipwrecks and death. Yet it is only recently that immigration has become a political issue and object of mobilization on these border islands. This article studies the process by which immigration was politicized in Sicily from the point of view of the dynamics of pro-migrant mobilizations from the mid-1980s to the late 2000s. To that end, I consider the emergence and consolidation of immigration as an issue for activists in a region of traditional emigration that has been transformed into a symbol for Europe’s border and where social and contentious dynamics were long structured around the mafia. I examine the various generations of actors who contributed to constructing the migrant cause in Sicily, set these protest dynamics in their local context and examine the manner in which the specificities of the Sicilian territory are linked with the national and European levels.

La matrice de l’État-parti : réseaux et trajectoires politiques en Chine contemporaine
Jérôme Doyon

[The Matrix of the Party State: Political Networks and Trajectories in Contemporary China]
In the absence of competitive popular elections for selecting the leaders of the party state, Chinese politics is often reduced to its informality. The present article calls into question the heuristic value of the distinction between formal and informal politics. In China, it is impossible to distinguish between these two ideal types for the system of political selection makes an institutional foundation of its leaders’ partiality. Taking the cadres of the CCP’s main youth organization, the Communist Youth League, as an example, I examine in detail political trajectories in contemporary China in order to grasp the complexity of the interpersonal relations that link officials to one another. In contrast to a widely held view of the party state as organized around established factional groups, I argue that the combination of very strong relations linked to the organizational hierarchy and weaker, horizontal ones developed by the cadres over the course of their careers put them at the center of multiple and varied networks of allegiance. It is this diversity of relations that nurtures the cadres’ individual loyalty to the system as a whole.

Caroline Guigay

Caroline Moine, Cinéma et guerre froide : histoire du festival de films documentaires de Leipzig (1955-1990), Paris, Publications de la Sorbonne, 2014, 453 pages.

Massimo Prearo

Roman Kuhar et David Paternotte (eds), Anti-Gender Campaigns in Europe: Mobilizing against Equality, Londres, Rowman & Littlefield International, 2017, X-292 pages.

Marine Gassier

Christopher S. Clapham, The Horn of Africa: State Formation and Decay, Londres, Hurst & Company, 2017, 224 pages.