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°83 - Content



No Abstract


Thema - Corps migrants aux frontières méditerranéennes de l’Europe
Edited by Marie Bassi and Farida Souiah


No Abstract


La violence du régime des frontières et ses conséquences létales : récits et pratiques autour des morts et disparus par migration
Marie Bassi, Farida Souiah


No Abstract


Les traces des morts : gestion des corps retrouvés et traitement des corps absents à la frontière hispano-marocaine
Carolina Kobelinsky

[The Traces of the Dead: Managing Dead and Missing Migrants at the Spanish-Moroccan Border]
Several ways of seeing and dealing with the bodies of migrants who die at the borders of Europe are in tension. The discovery of a body immediately gives rise to a search for the deceased’s identity. To that end, activists, migrants and the inhabitants of border areas join forces to gather information permitting the body to be given a name and help the deceased find a place among his loved ones (family and peers). For there is no specific official protocol for restoring names and identities to those who die at the EU borders. The present article examines the ways in which travelling companions take care of the dead and the missing at the border between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla. Using ethnography, I consider the death of a young Malian man and the way in which it was handled. Throughout, I draw upon the notion of the trace as a tool to help one grasp the various aspects of this undertaking.

« Not In My Cemetery ». Le traitement des corps de migrants morts à la frontière orientale de la Grèce
Laurence Pillant

[“Not in My Cemetery”. Handling the Bodies of Migrants Who Have Died on Greece’s Eastern Border]
The Greco-Turk border is one of the deadliest of the southern European Union. There, the measures to control migration established since the 2000s receive particular attention from the authorities. They sometimes result in death, which is a feature of these plural contexts. What happens to the bodies of migrants found dead in the prefecture of Evros thus differs from what happens to those found dead on the Island of Rhodes. In this comparative study, I attempt to identify the constants and particularities of procedures for handling the bodies of deceased migrants. In addition to the interest of this subject, about which little information is collected in Greece, I seek to understand how border controls extend beyond their initial function to create new (mortuary) spaces that at once produce and reproduce the inequalities that characterize them.

« Une petite histoire au potentiel symbolique fort ». La fabrique d’un cimetière de migrants inconnus dans le sud-est tunisien
Valentina Zagaria

[“A Small Story with Great Symbolic Potential”. “Fixing” a Cemetery for Unknown Migrants in South-east Tunisia]
From the summer of 2015, as Europe faced the so-called “refugee crisis”, increasing numbers of mainly European journalists, researchers, film-makers, photographers and activists began travelling to the Tunisian coastal town of Zarzis. They all wished to report on the existence of a burial place established for the victims of the European Union’s border. They were welcomed by local actors, and in particular by Chamseddine, a former fisherman who over the years became deeply involved in these burials. Told through one man's charitable commitment to provide dignity to those who died at the EU's liquid border, the cemetery was framed as a place epitomising both the deadly effects of migration policies, and the compassion of simple citizens in the face of horror. Various groups and individuals also took steps to contribute to the cemetery’s upkeep. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Zarzis between 2015 and 2017, this article explores the conceptual and practical acts of 'fixing' surrounding the cemetery. These resulted in turning it into a focal symbol triggering moral and political discourses of empathy and hope, but also of blame and responsibility, bringing to the fore the colonial and neo-colonial legacies of the "refugee crisis".

Corps absents : des fils disparus et des familles en lutte ? Le cas des migrants tunisiens
Farida Souiah

[Absent Bodies: Missing Sons and Struggling Families? The Case of Tunisian Migrants]
Since 2011, a number of Tunisian collectives and associations have rallied to the cause of missing migrants. Represented by the La Terre pour Tous association, among others, the families in question have called for their loved ones to be returned to them (the absence of their bodies feeding hopes they still live) or any information that would allow them to put their uncertainty to rest. Have the missing become anonymous bodies? If so, under what circumstances? Further enhancing the symbolic impact of these disappearances, the figure of the suffering and tearful mother plays a central role in the context of utterance and practices of protest. Attracted by the anti-establishment power of these struggles, national and transnational associations and activist collectives have joined forces with families to promote their cause, lend support and translate, guide and extend it. Yet while these many and varied actors have seized upon the theme of absent bodies to criticize migratory and border regime policies, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has sought to frame the death of migrants in other ways and promoted programs intended to dissuade others from making the same journey. The La Terre pour Tous association, for its part, which has seen its share of tension and rivalry, has adopted some demands and forms of protest but chosen to abandon others.

Les périls de la migration : médiations conflictuelles du risque aux frontières maritimes de l’Union européenne
Charles Heller, Lorenzo Pezzani

[The Perils of Migration: Conflictual Mediations of Risk at the Maritime Frontiers of the European Union]
In this article, we present the successive strategies developed by the Forensic Oceanography project to document and denounce the death of migrants at sea. We first present the “aesthetic” dimension within which – and against which – the project sought to position itself. We then turn to consider the manner in which the project shifted from documenting the specific practices of at-sea actors that resulted in death (such as the “Left-to-Die Boat”) to reconstructing the lethal effects of state policies (such as the cessation of the Mare Nostrum operation). Finally, we show how the project contributed to the creation of Watch the Med Alarm Phone, a 24/7 non-governmental telephone hotline allowing assistance to be directly provided to migrants in distress. While European agencies such as Frontex conduct state-centered “risk analyses” to neutralize the “threat” represented by illegal migrants, Forensic Oceanography has forged a migrant-centered “counter-risk analysis” to contest the violence of borders and diminish the risks to which public policy exposes migrants. Contradictory knowledge and mediations of the border, we argue, also drive the conflict over mobility in the Mediterranean.

Une expertise internationale sans « bonnes pratiques » : soutenir la professionnalisation du travail parlementaire dans la Tunisie d’après 2011
Quentin Deforge

[An International Expertise without “Best Practices”: Supporting the Professionalization of Parliamentary Work in Tunisia after 2011]
This article presents a research on the “parliamentary development” project that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) established in Tunisia following the 2011 regime change. Drawing upon participant observation, it challenges the work done about other sectors of transnational public action, which mainly sees these types of expertise and intervention as the diffusion of norms, recommendations and “best practices”. Working among parliamentary experts on a daily basis revealed the irrelevancy of reducing this work to the circulation of international resources. In fact, this work consists in supporting the professionalization of parliamentary work, with limited international aspects. The project rather depends upon the mobilization of national resources in order to support the Tunisian Assembly’s MPs and civil servants. Therefore, I suggest that we should look at the circulation of “best practices” as part of the processes of professionalization of various sectors of transnational public action rather than their common substance.

La santé maternelle par téléphone portable au Ghana et en Inde : inégalités et intersections technologiques
Marine Al Dahdah

[Mobile-Driven Maternal Health in Ghana and India: Technological Inequalities and Technological Intersections]
Health programs designed to improve maternal health in the developing world have proposed an “emancipatory” tool to make up for gender and healthcare inequalities: the mobile phone. The proponents of this system, known as mHealth, present it as a neutral and accessible smart technology. Yet its effects and the way it transforms inequalities on the ground run counter to its stated promises. My argument draws upon empirical data gathered over the course of a multi-situated study of the implementation of a global mHealth program in rural Ghana and India. Thanks to the contributions of postcolonial studies, gender studies and STS studies, I show how these digital health devices have transformed already existing power relations, reproducing and even reinforcing inequalities in very different ways depending on their context of implementation.

Être officiel ou faire officiel ? Sur deux styles de barrages routiers en Afrique de l’Ouest (Ghana/ Sénégal)
Sidy Cissokho

[To Be Official or Appear Official? On Two Styles of Roadblock in West Africa (Ghana/Senegal)]
This study compares two types of roadblocks created by entities representing passenger transport professionals in Ghana and Senegal. Far from competing with the legal authorities, each of these types of roadblock bases their legitimacy on a performance of proximity with the state, its ideal, symbolism and the officials who represent it. By comparing these two cases, however, one may go further. In Ghana, this practice has long been subject to legal supervision. In Senegal, by contrast, it is the result of an array of informal agreements reached at the municipal and regional levels. While this difference confers greater resources upon the Ghanaian entity to stage its proximity with the state, it also makes it more vulnerable than its Senegalese counterpart to changes in the national political conjuncture. In this specific case, what may a priori seem the most fragile performance of the state appears to be the most enduring, if not the most stable.

État de littérature. Comment les cadavres des migrants sont devenus des objets sociologiques. Notes sur quelques travaux en sciences humaines et sociales (2012-2018)
Françoise Lestage


No Abstract


Théotime Chabre

Claire Visier (dir.), La Turquie d’Erdoğan : avec ou sans l’Europe ? Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2017, 277 pages

Philippe Lavigne Delville

Pierre Blanc., Terres, pouvoirs et conflits : une agro-histoire du monde. Paris, Presses de Sciences Po, 2018, 379 pages


Romain Robinet., La Révolution mexicaine : une histoire étudiante. Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2017, 295 pages