CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

Back in 2007, a small Île-de-France village was hit by media outrage. The journalists blamed its inhabitants for standing by and allowing incest to be perpetrated for twenty-eight years, resulting in the birth of six children, without ever reporting what was going on to the judicial system or to social services. On the basis of a one-year ethnographic fieldwork study, undertaken in the village where the family used to live and in the underprivileged district where the father used to work, the author demonstrates that no alert was issued since nothing warranted it. The residents had never perceived what was happening as being a criminal act, as journalists would later call it and reveal it to be. They had never thought of it as incest. This incest and the abuses committed by the father against his initially minor then adult daughter were actually part of the daily life within the village and the underprivileged district. All of them, family members, neighbors, and more distant residents, were caught within a social configuration that had built this incest. By becoming a regular part of local life, this incest lost its criminal characterization.

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