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°82 - Content



No Abstract


Le ministère de la crise ou l’art de gouverner en Iran
Maziyar Ghiabi

[The Ministry of Crisis or the Art of Governing in Iran]
Giorgio Agamben argues that in contemporary governance the use of ‘emergency’ is no longer provisional, but ‘constitutes a permanent technology of government’ and has produced the extrajudicial notion of crisis. These ‘zones of indistinction’ between the law and its practice are what Agamben calls the ‘state of exception’. This article adopts the notion enunciated by Agamben and revisits it in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a country regarded as authoritarian and at odds with Western polities. In Iran, crisis has been given, firstly, a juridical status through the institution of maslahat, ‘expediency’, interpreted in a secular encounter between Shi‘a theological exegesis and modern statecraft. Secondly, crisis has not led to a formal production of a ‘state of exception’ as Agamben argues. Instead, since the late 1980s, a sui generis institution, the Expediency Council, has presided over matters of crisis. Instead of leaving blind spots in the production of legislative power –in state formation and the law –, the Expediency Council takes charges of those spheres of ambiguity where the ‘normal’ – and normative – means of the law would have otherwise failed to deliver. This is no minor event, if one bears in mind that so-called illiberal states such as Iran are often recorded as producing states of exceptions where individual and collective rights are abrogated. Through the deconstruction and theorization of crisis politics/policy the article provides a first study of this institution and of the notion of ‘crisis’ in Iran.

Les mobilisations armées à l’est de la République démocratique du Congo : dynamiques sociales d’une pratique ordinaire
Mehdi Belaid

[Armed Mobilizations in the Eastern Regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo Seen from Below]
While there have been many studies of conflict dynamics in the Democratic Republic of Congo, few have considered those doing the fighting. By examining the trajectories of past and present Mai-Mai fighters, I will show that armed mobilizations in eastern RDC are also explained by reference to the fact that the combatants see their participation in the struggle as an ordinary, informal social practice. Mai-Mai groups are flexible structures with fluid boundaries in which entry and exit costs are relatively low. In an everyday context characterized by uncertainty, the use of weapons in eastern RDC is thus part of a moving and endlessly reinvented repertoire of resourcefulness and survival. The ability of these groups to adapt to an evolving political context, frequently and rapidly reorganize and, in some cases, reproduce demonstrates that, in this region, armed mobilization is driven as much by on-the-ground dynamics as it is initiated by elites.

Les jeux d’échelles de l’action collective : militantisme local et solidarité internationale dans les campagnes de Colombie
Mathilde Allain

[Interacting Scales of Collective Action: Local Activism and International Solidarity in the Colombian Countryside]
In recent years, much has been written in the fields of international activism studies and the sociology of international solidarity. By considering the relations of solidarity cultivated among local activists, the present article seeks to put those works under discussion. Since the late 1990s, the Colombian peasant organizations studied here – one consisting of landless small farmers and the other of Afro-descendant communities – have sought to draw attention to their situation and denounce inequalities in the distribution of land and violations of human rights. On the basis of an empirical study of these two organizations, I offer an account of the twofold movement by which they have internationalized their cause and brought international solidarity to focus on the countryside. I initially show how local actors drew upon activist legacies and available networks to internationalize themselves. By setting the actors in their activist context (that of their experiences), I then show how they re-appropriated these North-South relations of solidarity and put them to differentiated use. In so doing, I emphasize the interaction of the various scales at work and present several different vantage points for understanding them.

Domestiquer les normes, repenser le combat : l’internationalisation de la cause des « disparus » du franquisme en Espagne
Sélim Smaoui

[Domesticating Norms, Rethinking the Struggle: Internationalizing the Cause of the “Disappeared” of Francoism in Spain]
Over the course of the 2000s in Spain, the cause of the “victims of Francoism” was the object of many activist initiatives. Local histories and symbols informed the causes that were promoted in this space of mobilization. At the same time, however, this struggle was just as much imbued with the vocabularies and practices of the world of international human rights and “post-conflict” mobilizations. Drawing upon a sociology of mobilizations approach attentive to the dynamics of the international circulation of ideas and practices, this article considers the specific ways in which international references were diffused and appropriated. I take as my example the construction of a now-emblematic cause, that of the victims of “forced disappearance”, giving particular attention to the principles that guided the international-level appropriation of forensic investigative and therapeutic-reparative practices. In so doing, I show that the reorganization of demands and the work of memory did not result from mechanically aligning the latter with pre-established frameworks. To the contrary, describing the positions, resources and competencies of importers reveals very significant social predispositions in favor of domesticating and drawing out the norms and practices being promoted. In this respect, my discussion allows one to understand how the appropriation of practices usually associated with expert techniques of depoliticization vastly increased the arsenal available to mobilized collectives.

Les sujets de l’autonomie indigène : autogouvernement et cosmopolitiques dans les Andes boliviennes
Verónica Calvo Valenzuela

[The Subjects of the Indigenous Autonomy: Self-government and Cosmopolitics in the Bolivian Andes]
With adoption of its new constitution in 2009, formerly republican Bolivia became a plurinational state. As a result, the country’s indigenous peoples were granted the right to adopt a self-governing regime: Native Indigenous Peasant Autonomy (AIOC). To enjoy this right, the populations must draft a statute of autonomy defining their ties to a particular land, history and culture. In the Tarabuco municipality, the drafting of this document provoked conflicts between the territory’s three social organizations: the peasant union, the representatives of the ayllus communities and those of town-dwellers. Seeking to appropriate the definition of this new legal subject, each group promoted its own vision of the tarabuqueño ethos. At a time marked by the plurinational state’s promotion of decolonization, the AIOC nevertheless urged a clearly identifiable culture and nature to be objectivized, favoring forms of modern subjectivation. In the more discreet spaces of everyday life, however, this self-definition and specific subjectivation gave way to a world in which the principles of redistribution and reciprocity between humans and non-humans are of continued relevance for the inhabitants of Tarabuco, no matter the organization to which they belong. Based on ethnographic data, this study shows how, in the framework of a dispositive of power (the AIOC) falling under the broader paradigm of neoliberal governmentality, the self is forged from various legal constraints and universes of meaning and in response to contradictory demands.

Mérite et bienveillance : faire carrière dans l’administration judiciaire au Chili (1974-2016)
Jeanne Hersant

[Merit and Kindness: Making a Career in the Legal Administration of Chili (1974-2016)]
There are few studies of the public administration in Chili. The present article examines the court employees who oversaw investigations in the Chilean judicial system between the 1970s and the 2000s, with particular attention given the illegal but at the time very widespread practice of delegating authority. Indeed, these agents, who only entered the institution by cooptation, often took the place of a judge. I consider the informal economy of social relations and its relationship to the recruitment and promotion of officials in trial courts, where the proceedings exclusively took place in writing and were shielded from the public gaze. Legal professionals sometimes played only a secondary role in these proceedings, particularly in criminal cases. If one is to understand the concrete ways in which legal proceedings took place and the issues at stake in the reforms implemented in the early 2000s, one must thus consider the role played by these “little” officials. Examining the careers of these employees supports the argument that the Chilean legal administration lacked any institutional and socially prestigious model of professional skill and probity in the period under consideration.

Construire un problème public au Japon : l’endettement des ménages et la réglementation du prêt non sécurisé
Adrienne Sala

[The Regulation of Unsecured Loans in Japan and Indebtedness as a Public Problem]
Until just a few years ago, the personal loan market in Japan was largely unregulated. In fact, this sector was characterized by the existence of non-bank lenders whose considerable growth was made possible by the continued existence of a largely unrestrictive legal framework. However, with the adoption of a reform of the consumer and small business credit market in 2006, the balance of power was inversed in favor of borrowers. This law, like the decisions of the Supreme Court decisions (2003-2005) that sought to protect defaulting borrowers, was the outcome of a long effort to defend borrowers’ rights vis-à-vis non-bank lending establishments. This movement was led by lawyers and supported both by the opposition parties and the reformist faction of the ruling party (Liberal Democratic Party). I examine the way in which these legal professionals succeeded in publicizing a problematical situation – excessive indebtedness – in order to bring about changes to the legal order, ultimately leading to the law’s modification.

Sebastián Pereyra

Cesare Mattina, Frédéric Monier, Olivier Dard, Jens Ivo Engels (dir.), Dénoncer la corruption : chevaliers blancs, pamphlétaires et promoteurs de la transparence à l’époque contemporaine, Paris, Demopolis, 2018, 382 pages

Sophie Lefeez

Jean-Vincent Holeindre, La ruse et la force. Une autre histoire de la stratégie, Paris, Perrin, 2017, 528 page

Marième N’Diaye

Ioana Cîrstocea, Delphine Lacombe, Élisabeth Marteu (dir.), La globalisation du genre. Mobilisations, cadres d’actions, savoirs, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2018, 290 pages

Pierre Rouxel

Gabriel Vommaro, La larga marcha de Cambiemos. La construcción silenciosa de un proyecto de poder, Buenos Aires, Siglo XXI Editores, 2017, 363 pages