#116 | A Zone To Defend: The Historical/Cultural Context & Purpose Of The ZAD w/ Alley Valkyrie

In this episode, I speak with Alley Valkyrie about the recent events in western France regarding the communal, long-term occupation at the ZAD (French: zone à défendre; English: zone to defend). Alley provides a much needed explanation of the events currently unfolding there; she contextualizes and expounds on the overlapping and interplaying cultural, political, and historical trends that have led to the present situation on the ground there.

Here's a very brief (and simplistic) description of what is unfolding at the ZAD, published in The Guardian, on April 9th 2018: 

"French police have used teargas in an attempt to clear anti-capitalist squatters from the site of an abandoned airport project. About 2,500 riot police made a pre-dawn raid in Notre-Dame-des-Landes to evict about 250 activists. The squatters have occupied the site for 10 years to prevent the airport from being built, but refused to leave after the plans were dropped earlier this year, saying they sought to construct an alternative way of life. The government had warned they would be evicted and carried out this threat on Monday morning. The protesters threw petrol bombs and set fire to barricades made of tyres and wooden pallets to obstruct the police’s advance. An eclectic group of anti-capitalists, eco-warriors and squatters, known as Zadists, joined a handful of farmers on the site in 2008." [source: https://bit.ly/2vUyLjC]

While this situation is complex, Alley does an absolutely superb job laying out all the necessary details of this under-reported event (particularly in English language publications), bringing us all up to speed as to what is really happening on the ground there. 

While this conversation mainly focuses on clarifying the events at the ZAD, we also discuss Alley's decision to leave the United States and begin the arduous process of becoming a citizen of France. We discuss the major underlying differences between French cultural attitudes surrounding protest and resistance, to the United States' general attitudes about protest and resistance, and why such differences exist in the first place.

Alley is an activist, political theorist, writer, and co-founder of Gods&Radicals. After spending much of her life in the within the borders of the United States, she now resides in Rennes, France.

Episode Notes:

- Read Alley's essays published at Gods&Radicals here: https://godsandradicals.org/author/alleyvalkyrie

- Get updates on Alley and her work/projects on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alleyvalkyrie

- Keep Alley well-fed and alive. Support her work on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/alleyvalkyrie

- The audio sample at the beginning of this episode is from "France: ZAD eco-camp eviction battle continues between riot police and radical activists" published by Ruptly April 11th, 2019 on YouTube. Source: https://youtu.be/n1W-iR44yI0

- The music in this episode is from the video "Dungeon sessions: Knxwledge - Jstowee" published by Stones Throw May 4th, 2015. Source: https://youtu.be/yK91vjg2Hsg