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This panel aims to introduce defeat as a heuristic concept in anthropology. Defeat is a space of transformation which can help reframe (post)conflict situations. The panel seeks to grasp how the vanquished rethink their past and future, and how they attempt to be reintegrated in the new context.
Although anthropologists have often studied populations who have lost political conflicts, these social groups were almost never analyzed as defeated. This panel aims to fill this gap, showing that defeat is a heuristic concept for anthropology. Indeed, defeat is not only a military or political matter, but it may lead to a dismantling of the imaginary, the culture, the religion, and the social organization of the defeated (Wachtel 1971). A military defeat doesn't only affect the armed actors and the activists, it can entail a broader defeat of an entire society's "intellectual order" (Bloch 1946). Indeed, it can foster the emergence of new outlooks, forms of identity, and political regimes (Dower 1999; Hashimoto 2015), which is an opportunity to find new paradigms for the interpretation of a community's history (Koselleck 1988), or of its new ways of living. Therefore, the defeat is a space of transformation, which can help to reframe (post)conflict situations and ongoing social changes.
We look forward to papers focusing not only on military defeats but also on those of social movements, political activists, and similar cases. We aim to articulate the concept of defeat in relation with the heterogeneous characteristics of the vanquished (in terms of class, gender, ethnicity, etc.). How does the defeat shape the imaginary, the past, and the future? Which social changes occurred because of the defeat? What happens to the vanquished? Do those who were engaged in radical movements de-radicalize? How is the defeat conceived in related diasporic communities?