“This is not a yellow vest (gilet jaune). It’s much more!!!” Evoking Magritte’s famous phrase “This is not a pipe,” the slogan written on this safety vest in September 2019 holds great significance. Indeed, its meaning far exceeds the garment’s purpose of identification and distress in emergency situations. It became “much more” as the metonymy of one of the longest social and political uprisings in history. It is also “much more” because this powerful movement has taken on unprecedented dimensions. Transforming roundabouts into communal spaces; demonstrating Saturday after Saturday in Paris and cities throughout France; targeting symbols of power, with the capture of the Champs-Élysées representing that of the state and capital—in many ways, this movement is truly unique. What could not be heard before has been said.
The Hour of Revolt: The Gilets Jaunes and the Question of Emancipation
Ludivine Bantigny is a historian and lecturer at the University of Rouen. She works on the history of social movements and political commitments. Among her publications are 1968, de grands soirs en petits matins (2018, reprinted 2020), La France à l’heure du monde: de 1981 à nos jours (2013, reprinted 2019), Révolution (2019), L’OEuvre du temps: mémoire, histoire, engagement (2019), and La plus belle avenue du monde: une histoire sociale et politique des Champs-Élysées.
Ludivine Bantigny, Sylvia Gorelick; The Hour of Revolt: The Gilets Jaunes and the Question of Emancipation. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 October 2020; 119 (4): 856–865. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-8663759
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