Perrine Lachenal

Perrine Lachenal graduated in political sciences in 2006 and in anthropology, in 2008, from the “École des hautes études en sciences sociales” (EHESS) of Paris. In 2010, few months before the so-called “Egyptian revolution”, she began a PhD in Aix-Marseille University. For the past three years, she has carried out an ethnographic work in different self-defense training classes for women in Egypt, addressing the emerging social and gendered dynamics at play in revolutionary Cairo throw the issue of physical violence and its legitimacy. She published four papers during her PhD and organized a seminar, “Gender revolutions”, that took place in the CEDEJ (French center of research) in Cairo during the year 2012. She will defend her PhD at the end of the year 2014 and wish to find a post- doctoral opportunity to develop a comparative approach of self-defense initiatives and “popular” security groups in the region, such as the experience of “civilian patrols” which was a prominent aspect of the uprisings in Tunisia or Libya.

Perrine Lachenal’s project:

Learning Self-Defense in Revolutionary Cairo: Gender, Class and the Economy of Violence

The development of women self-defense courses in the Cairene urban landscape is one of the visible answers to the problem of “sexual harassment”, which has been recently built as a public and political issue in Egypt. Self-defense trainings, aiming at teaching young women technics to defend themselves against harassers and thugs, have burgeoned during the revolutionary events. Several other initiatives related to security have appeared in the same context, such as civilian patrols devoted to protect the neighborhoods or to prevent harassment during demonstrations. As my ethnographic data shows, the organization of these self-defense and patrolling teams raised a fundamental debate concerning the use of physical violence and its legitimacy. This debate reveals and problematizes the emerging social and gendered dynamics at play in revolutionary Cairo. When the instances of official power are criticized and undermined, who has the right to use violence? Against who and in name of what? In my doctoral thesis, I address the ways in which self-defense courses perform and transform the urban space, class positions and gender relationships.


OpenEdition suggests that you cite this post as follows:
Barbara Bishay (July 11, 2014). Perrine Lachenal. eume-city. Retrieved July 20, 2024 from

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