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Fighting for FranceViolence in Interwar French Politics$
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Chris Millington

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266274

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266274.001.0001

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The Battle for the Street

The Battle for the Street

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 The Battle for the Street
Source:
Fighting for France
Author(s):

Chris Millington

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197266274.003.0001

This chapter examines confrontations between rival political activists in the street. Political activists regularly clashed with their opponents for the transient control of public space. Groups policed their own territory and invaded that of their enemy. Symbolic confrontations were frequent, and uniforms, insignia, posters and songs ensured that groups were ‘seen’ in enemy territory. These invasions frequently led to violence as activists fought off the intruder. A variety of weapons were used, from knuckledusters and knives to clubs and revolvers. Fighting in the street was interpreted according to conceptions of acceptable behaviour rooted in notions of manliness. The use of offensive violence was discouraged as behaviour unbecoming of a man. However, defensive violence, framed as a punishment, was permitted as a necessary corrective to the opponent’s loss of self-control.

Keywords:   street fighting, violence, gendered codes of conduct, self-defence

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