the subversive force of an activist

the subversive force of an activist
the subversive force of an activist

“Davis”, by Najate Zouggari, Les Pérégrines, “Icônes”, 108 p., €14.90.

By devoting a biographical essay – the first written in French – to Angela Davis, American feminist, communist, anti-racist and anti-carceral philosopher and activist, Najate Zouggari displays two objectives: to understand the relationships of domination studied by Davis and to give the desire to fight , like her, to dismantle them.

The sociologist, specialist in gender issues, succeeds in her bet. Sexism, racism, police violence or imperialist wars…: eight thematic chapters, clear and detailed, offer the reader an overview of a work centered, since the 1960s, on the analysis of different systems of oppression.

The author explores Davis’s thought by comparing it with that of other authors, such as Jean Genet (1910-1986) or the sociologist Christine Delphy. She also sheds light on it with the help of contemporary concepts, such as that of intersectionality, which the American never mentions in her works but which perfectly qualifies her explanation of the links between racial, class and gender discrimination.

Political positions

Because Angela Davis’s thinking has always sought to expand to all forms of domination, across all territories. Türkiye, Cuba, Vietnam or Palestine. Najate Zouggari documents the travels of an activist who thus reveals, wherever she goes, the points of convergence between local emancipatory revolutions, just as she calls for international collective struggle to put an end to “the violence of European colonization (…)historical base common to Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the American continent.

The sociologist intersperses her essay in particular with numerous political positions taken by Angela Davis on France, with the denunciation of “uninhibited anti-Arab racism” from the 1960s to the current one of “myth of Islamo-leftism”. In doing so, Davis invites us to take another look at our universalist Republic, which we would tend, in the words of Zouggari, to think “preserved from this structural racism” irrigating “the distant United States”. However, she chooses not to mention the gray areas of this journey. The theorist thus demonstrated a complacency (for which she was often criticized) with regard to the USSR and Cuba, and in particular their repressive policies against homosexuals and feminists.

Davis remains fascinating because it does not stop at the cult to which the 80-year-old theorist is the subject in France and throughout the world, which borders, according to the author, on a form of “commodification”. On the contrary, it awakens its subversive force, by showing in all its depth the radicalism of the activist, which some criticize her for, but which Najate Zouggari shows is necessary to build more just and egalitarian societies.

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