Mark Traugott


On his book The Insurgent Barricade

Cover Interview of January 12, 2011


My work lies at the intersection of the disciplines of history and sociology.  I am interested in the ways that long-term patterns in the form of violent conflict reflect the changing relationship between those in power and those who seek to influence or overthrow them.

The construction of barricades, though a relatively rare occurrence in any given time or place, has persisted for more than four hundred years and remains a highly visible form of modern contention.  The history of this technique of insurrection is significant for what it reveals about the motives and intentions of forces on both sides of a civil conflict and for what it teaches us about how the methods of protest available to the members of society originate and evolve.

Through the study of the barricade, we learn about the almost ritualized nature of the preliminaries to violent civil conflict and the complex byplay that accompanies the actual fighting, as insurgents launch fraternal appeals aimed at winning over troops whose officers battle valiantly to retain the loyalty of the rank and file.

The acts of heroism, self-sacrifice, vainglory, and desperation that the barricade inspires explain why it has become the iconic representation of a tradition of revolution that now spans the globe.

© 2010 Mark Traugott