Snapshots: ‘Reflections on the Violence in France’

| January 15, 2015
Webster community members gathered in Winifred Moore on Jan. 14 to discuss the events in France.

Webster community members gathered in Winifred Moore Auditorium on Jan. 14 to discuss recent violence in France, led by presentations from College of Arts & Sciences.

Webster University community members gathered Wednesday afternoon in the Winifred Moore Auditorium for “Reflections on the Violence in France,” with several College of Arts & Sciences faculty members leading discussion of the roots and reactions to the deadly assault on the Paris office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

A variety of topics and ideas were presented, with each faculty member approaching from his/her area of expertise. The discussion was moderated by Amanda Rosen, assistant professor in the History, Politics & International Relations Department.

Cuille: The History of Caricatures and French Context

Lionel Cuillé, the Jane and Bruce Robert Endowed Chair in French and Francophone Studies, discussed “French Caricatures in Context,” where he mentioned both historic and the french ideas of caricatures. He focused on some of the differences between France and the United States, and reflected on a quote heard on NPR that stated, “In France we separate the state from religion, while in the U.S. you separate religion from the state.”

Cuillé shared his point of view and explained that historically, “The critique and satire of caricatures [for me] is that they are a French passion and are ingrained in the French character. There is, in France, an ingrained critique of authority.”

Alakoc: The Changing Face of Terrorism

Pinar Alakoc, assistant professor in History, Politics & International Relations, spoke about a variety of terrorist attacks throughout modern day history in her discussion, “The Changing Face of Terrorism: From a Weapon of the Weak to a Weapon of All.” Alakoc mentioned that nowadays, terrorism is no longer always a planned attack by any certain organization; rather, more and more attacks are now from individuals or small groups.

“Terrorism is a weapon of the determined, and we no longer know who could be a perpetrator,” she said.

Rosenblum: The Origins of European Terrorism
The Webster Community discusses events in France surrounding the magazine Charlie Hebdo which is a weekly satirical magazine that was subject of violent activity on Jan. 7, 2015

Each faculty member presented a different angle on the roots of the deadly assault on the offices of  “Charlie Hebdo,” a weekly satirical magazine.

The next discussion topic, “Three Guys from the Suburbs: On the Origins of European Terrorism” was led by Warren Rosenblum, professor and chair of History, Politics & International Relations. He shared information about the “European ghetto” and discussed how different impoverished conditions are in Europe versus the United States.

In France the outlying cities are the centers for economic struggles and those struggles can influence illegal activity. In the U.S. it tends to be the opposite, where the inner city areas are the locations for higher levels of economic struggle and crime.

Parr: Freedom of Speech and Terrorism

The event closed with Chris Parr‘s discussion, “Who Can Stand Being Insulted: Freedom of Speech as Another Form of Terrorism.” Parr talked about how the phrase Je Suis Charlie (“I am Charlie”) was uniting people around the world in response to the attacks at the magazine office.

He then went on to examine the Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie perspective: the sentiment that just because you can do something, does not mean you should. This was in reference to the right of people to express themselves and the use of satirical caricatures, in this case depicting religious figures whom many hold as sacred.

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After the discussion, audience members were able to ask questions and share comments. Though the event featured different academic approaches to the topic, the sense of tragedy and mourning was evident. In closing his comments Rosenblum said, “With this being so fresh, in some ways this is an academic event, and in others it is a memorial event.”

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Category: Campus Snapshots, Faculty

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