...While often treated as the violent eruptions that stand in contrast to peaceful protests, riots might be regarded instead as an overdue form of self-defense from what Kirn and Tajeri call “riots from above.” This violence of disenfranchisement and segregation are enacted through demolished buildings, murderous policing, selective enforcement of laws, and the denial of security and welfare. Riots do not tip protest into the realm of crime, but rather represent the exposure of a violation of rights or a crime of dispossession. Riots may be uprisings among these dispossessed to “renew the demos” as contributor Dilip Gaonkar writes. Or they are moments of “repossession,” as another contributor, Asef Bayat, describes them.
A riot may mark a breakthrough moment that fuels sustained creative dissensus, but this is not a book about those feints and parries that surprise and outwit power. Instead, it deliberately maintains focus on the open wound of the riot. Riots manifest not a series of rare, fleeting eruptions, but rather as a constant presence. Each episode leads away into others in every part of the world and sends the story streaming back into deeper and deeper histories.