Simon Dawes

Chapter: #JeSuisCharlie, #JeNeSuisPasCharlie and Ad Hoc Publics

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After Charlie Hebdo: Terror, Racism and Free Speech

Edited by Gavan Titley, Des Freedman, Gholam Khiabany, and Aurélien Mondon

Book details on publisher’s website: https://www.zedbooks.net/shop/book/after-charlie-hebdo/forthcoming/

 

This book features my chapter ‘#JeSuisCharlie, #JeNeSuisPasCharlie and Ad Hoc Publics’

Abstract
The almost simultaneous emergence on Twitter of the hashtags #JeSuisCharlie and #JeNeSuisPasCharlie highlighted the conflicted and mediated nature of public reactions to the attack on Charlie Hebdo on 7th January 2015. In contrast to the mainstream media framing of events, particularly in France, in terms of ‘Republican values’ such as free speech, the propagation of these memes on social media demonstrated processes of cultural dis-identification, counter-discourse and counter-speech beyond absolutist arguments for or against free speech. It also turned attention to the formation of ‘ad hoc publics’ and ‘connective action’, as well as the performativity of social media participants and the capacity of the hashtags to generate value-driven as well as affective identifications. This chapter approaches the memetic spread of these hashtags as examples of the mundane media practice of political participation, and considers them, and the mainstream media’s engagement with them, in terms of the limits of free speech.

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