The Choice of Tears : Commemoration as a Mode of Protest

Special Report: The Past Mobilized
By Stéphane Latté

Although some historical works have recently unearthed different ways to “protest through mourning,” commemorative practices have remained outside the field of the sociology of collective action, as they have been considered inappropriate for the expression of political views. The aim of this article is to reinstate the tribute to victims as a regular mode of protest. Through an examination of 170 silent marches, I show how activists of associations or trade unions try to shape the funeral ceremony in a way that includes elements of political demands. Then I relate these expressions of grievance to the properties of the social groups who launched them, to their relationship to the authorities, to the actors they mobilize, and to their militant supporters. This article thereby contributes to a sociology of emotional repertoires embedded in collective action, and more precisely to an analysis of the mechanisms of protest mourning.

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