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Francis Dupuis-Deri


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Francis Dupuis-Déri is a professor of political science and a member of the Institut de recherches et d’études féministes at the Université du Québec à Montréal. He has been active in anarchist-leaning collectives in Quebec, France, and the United States. He is the author of several books on social movements, feminism, and anarchism.

Watch the Francis Dupuis-Déri interview in Franklin Lopez's film on the History of the Black Bloc HERE

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Who's Afraid of the Black Blocs?: Anarchy in Action around the World
Author: Francis Dupuis-Déri
Translated by Lazer Lederhendler
Publisher: PM Press/The Charles H. Kerr Library
ISBN: 9781604869491
Published: 09/01/2014
Format: Paperback
Size: 8x6
Page count: 224 Pages
Subjects: Politics-Anarchism, Politics-Activism

Faces masked, dressed in black, and forcefully attacking the symbols of capitalism, Black Blocs have been transformed into an anti-globalization media spectacle. But the popular image of the window-smashing thug hides a complex reality.

Francis Dupuis-Déri outlines the origin of this international phenomenon, its dynamics, and its goals, arguing that the use of violence always takes place in an ethical and strategic context.

Translated into English for the first time and completely revised and updated to include the most recent Black Bloc actions at protests in Greece, Germany, Canada, and England, and the Bloc’s role in the Occupy movement and the Quebec student strike, Black Blocs lays out a comprehensive view of the Black Bloc tactic and locates it within the anarchist tradition of direct action.


“A level-headed, carefully researched inquiry into a subject that reduces most pundits to foaming at the mouth.”
CrimethInc. Writers’ Bloc

“Francis Dupuis-Déri’s discussion of Black Blocs is intimately well-informed, truly international in scope, and up-to-the-minute. He treats the complex issues surrounding the tactic with an admirable balance of sympathy and sobriety. This book is the ideal antidote to the misinformation spread by the establishment, its defenders, and its false critics.”
—Uri Gordon, author of Anarchy Alive!

“Wearing black to mask their identities, the Black Bloc fights injustice globally. Although little is known about these modern Zorros, this book critically reveals their origins and prospects. I heartily recommend it.”
—George Katsiaficas, author of The Subversion of Politics

“The richness, imaginativeness, and sheer learning of Francis Dupuis-Déri’s work is stimulating and impressive. The whole book turns on a fascinating blend of the rigorously analytical and the generously imaginative. It was high time that it should be translated into English, as this well-established anarchist classic will both delight and inform.”
—Andrej Grubacic, Professor of Anthropology and Social Change, California Institute of Integral Studies, and coauthor of Wobblies & Zapatistas

Who’s Afraid of the Black Blocs? is a measured, critical, and persuasive defence of global protest actions. Against critics who dismiss these as purposeless or who treat illegalism as a distraction to the mainstream event, Dupuis-Déri highlights the effectiveness of the Black Blocs decision-making processes and the considered politics of its participants.”
—Ruth Kinna, professor of politics, history, and international relations, Loughborough University, UK, and author of Anarchism: A Beginner’s Guide

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who'sWho's Afraid of the Black Blocs?: A Review
By Devon Douglas-Bowers
December 18th, 2014

"Whether or not you agree with Black Blocs, property destruction, or a diverse array of protest methodologies, this book is excellent for several reasons.

First, rather than relying on hype or interpretation of events by outsiders, or by media seeking flashy conflicts or hits to websites, the author actually interviews multiple participants and he connects and engages with existing research, scholarship, and engagement with the Black Bloc. While it is clear that the author sympathizes with and appears to support, or at least understand, the value of Black Blocs as political tools and methods, he does not offer blind support for them. But he also does not question their importance in some political processes.

Finally, and perhaps most important–at least in terms of traditional representations of the Black Blocs in mass media — the author calls into question and compares the relative damage of a Black Bloc trashing a downtown or financial sector, most of which is covered by insurance, when compared to the environmental devastation or economic thrashing that some of these institutions inflict. For example, is smashing a few windows really comparable or more despicable than supporting the DAPL with its ongoing treaty violations and promised future environmental destruction and reinforcement of racism that directs what routes the pipeline is built on?"

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who'sWho's Afraid of the Black Blocs?: A Review
By Devon Douglas-Bowers
December 18th, 2014

...While this is a brief exploration of the Black Bloc, those who are interested further should read "Who's Afraid of the Black Blocs? Anarchy In Action Around the World," by Francis Dupuis-Déri (translated by Lazer Lederhendler), which not only provided the research for this article, but also explores on a deeper level what the black block is, the tactics and beliefs of black blockers, and criticism of the Black Bloc.

To begin to discuss black blocs, there must first be an understanding of what a black bloc is. Black blocs are “ad hoc assemblages of individuals or affinity groups that last for the duration of a march or rally” in which members retain their anonymity via head-to-toe black clothing. While there may be uses of force, “more often than not they are content to protest peacefully” with the main objective being to “embody within a demonstration a radical critique of the economic and political system.” A black bloc can be one person or thousands. It should be noted the black bloc isn't a group, but rather a tactic to allow for radicals to engage in direct action without fear of arrest; while many black blockers are anarchist, not all of them are...

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who'sWho's Afraid of the Black Blocs?: A Review
by Sam Stolton
3am magazine
December 8th, 2015

To oft has the formation of the Black Bloc been considered as politically impoverished by the overassertive echelons of media and academia. Yet Dupuis-Déri’s defense of the strategy as a viable form of resistance is both convincing and eruditely researched, drawn from a capacious stock of first hand experiences. To advocate direct action in the form of property damage and vandalism is no easy feat in the age of a flaccid, pacifist neoliberal doctrine that secretes the social imperative to remain at all costs in control of one’s socio-judicial conduct, and Dupuis-Déri presents an impassioned cry to the dissident movements of today to consider applying the Black Bloc stratagem in seeking a viable and effective tactic against the citadels of corporate capital.

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who'sWho's Afraid of the Black Blocs?: A Review
Sprout Distro
December 3rd, 2014

The author—Francis Dupuis-Déri—has been a close observer of black blocs and a participant in anti-capitalist politics, having been a member of the Convergence des luttes anticapitalistes (CLAC) in Montreal. The 2013 edition of this book is a completely revised English version of a book that was originally published in French in 2003. The English edition offers entirely new perspectives, taking into account recent mass protests and new uses of the black bloc—effectively showing that the tactic, while always evolving, has remained a constant feature of anarchist street protests across the world for nearly 15 years. In the end, Dupuis-Déri shows that the black bloc is a serious manifestation of anarchist beliefs and that as one of the more visible manifestation of anarchist politics, it is worthy of a nuanced exploration that moves beyond shallow analysis.

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who'sWho's Afraid of the Black Blocs?: A Review
By Gary Roth
Volume 6 issue 2
December 7th, 2014

For the Black Blocs, “peaceful methods are too limited and play into the hands of the powers that be” (p.38). They are anti-establishment and reject a notion of representation which presupposes homogeneous communities. This undercuts other groups by limiting their ability to step forward as “people’s representatives” and thereby influence public policy. The Blocs, on their part, have been accused of hiding amidst non-violent demonstrators, a criticism that hit home. In recent protests, they have been overly conscientious about not letting this occur.

Opponents also accuse them of antagonizing the public, even if just the opposite seems to be true. Black Bloc activity tends to boost interest in anarchist ideas and activities. Some Black Blocs have called for a “diversity of tactics,” a matter not well received by these other groups, despite the divide between spokespeople who denounce the Blocs and everyday protestors who want something more than just a peaceful, respectful protest that is easy to ignore.

Dupuis-Déri picks apart just about every negative characterization hurled at the Black Blocs, one of the several strengths of his book. The “propagandhi” of non-violent activists is his special focus.

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