A critique in practice: Everyday life in the “ZAD,” Notre-Dame-des-Landes (2013-2014)

Occupation Movements
By Geneviève Pruvost


The occupation of the “zone to be defended” (ZAD) of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, in protest against the building of an airport, began in 2008. In this rural area, the occupiers of the site have set out to demonstrate, in situ and through the way of life they have adopted, that another world is possible. Reflecting the fact that this type of movement rejects a concept of politics that is logocentric and pyramidal (based on speeches made in meetings) or spectacular (establishing a hierarchy between events termed “high” and “low” intensity, major and minor events), this study focuses on everyday life. While in the commercial world the basis of daily life is not questioned, in the ZAD, conversely, the slightest act is immediately politicized. In the ZAD, the critique of everyday life takes the form of concrete action (practice prevails over theoretical discourse), simplicity (in informal exchanges and methods used), self-government in the distribution of tasks and open and charge-free access to basic resources. However, a variety of arrangements exists in the ZAD. Their points of convergence and divergence are explored here.
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