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BOUHEY, Vivien (English Summary) Parisian Anarchist Leaders from the mid 1880s to 1894" Les leaders anarchistes parisiens du milieu des années 1880 à 1894
Glasgow communication, April 2012 (ESSHC)
Article published on 22 January 2013
last modification on 24 April 2015

by r-c.
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In our Ph.D. dissertation (Vivien Bouhey, Les Anarchistes contre la République, PUR, 2009), we have shown that, between 1880 and 1894, there existed a de facto hierarchy of sorts among the French anarchist movement: some activists of major anarchist circles (e.g. in Paris or Lyons) then emerged within the movement, wielding some authority connected with their positions in the movement, their intellectual or oratory skills, their charisma or their militant tendency.

We have also highlighted that other activists, across France but also sometimes abroad, have looked up to such emerging leaders, expecting them to produce ideas and especially some help in the field of oral and written propaganda, a feature that enhanced the polarisation of the movement.

Such de facto hierarchy then led us to probe the existence of what we called “anarchist executives” in these major anarchist circles: what we mean by “executives” is the presence in the same spot of activists who, being at the top of such unofficial hierarchy, might sometimes give, individually and in a disorderly way, by common consent but always in relation to a specific point, and always unofficially, major thrusts to the movement’s oral and written propaganda. Of course, such a trend does not preclude the existence of groups or individuals acting autonomously abroad or in France.
The gist of our dissertation, which was sometimes misrepresented in some acco
unts of our work, has sparked debate: this is the reason for our study of “Paris-based anarchist leaders from the mid 1880s to 1894”. We want to show who these leaders are, their relation to other activists and, judging from oral, written and action-driven propaganda, their role within the movement at the local, regional, national or even international level.

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