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Discursive turns and critical junctures : debating citizenship after the Charlie Hebdo attacks

Author: Donatella Della Porta
Publisher: New York, NY : Oxford University Press, 2020.
Series: Oxford studies in culture & politics.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
"The Charlie Hebdo attacks were neither the first nor the last within a wave of political violence with religious, fundamentalist motivations that has affected Arab as well as Western countries. In the latter, after the deadly attack on the Twin Towers in New York City on September 11, 2001, the bombs in Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005 shocked the public. Given the religious beliefs and claims of the perpetrators,  Read more...
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Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Porta, Donatella della,
Discursive turns and critical junctures
New York : Oxford University Press, 2020.
(DLC) 2019047236
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Donatella Della Porta
ISBN: 9780190097431 0190097434
OCLC Number: 1143839133
Description: xi, 264 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Series Title: Oxford studies in culture & politics.
Responsibility: Donatella della Porta, Pietro Castelli Gattinara, Konstantinos Eleftheriadis, and Andrea Felicetti.

Abstract:

"The Charlie Hebdo attacks were neither the first nor the last within a wave of political violence with religious, fundamentalist motivations that has affected Arab as well as Western countries. In the latter, after the deadly attack on the Twin Towers in New York City on September 11, 2001, the bombs in Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005 shocked the public. Given the religious beliefs and claims of the perpetrators, the ensuing debate revolved around a predictable cleavage. On one side, the Right called for law and order, rallying around the protection of Christian values against invasion by Islam (and migrants in general). On the other side were those defending the values of inclusion and pluralism, as well as migrants' rights overall. The fact that the target of the January 2015 attacks was a journal long identified with the left challenged the established path of argumentation. The right now had to defend freedom of speech for what was often considered a blasphemous outlet. On the left, the argument now had to consider potential limitations not only on free speech, but also on tolerance and pluralism. The attacks thus produced a short circuit, collapsing the debate on several issues related to various dimensions of citizenship, from freedom to security. They did so in a highly emotional atmosphere in which an in- versus out-polarization tended to rise, with Islam emerging as the core definitional element of the attackers and, therefore, of the problem itself. Indeed, the Charlie Hebdo attacks signaled a shift in the strategies of Islamist political violence from targeting the symbols of institutions of Western power - as with the September 11 attacks or the disruptive bombings of public transportation, with indiscriminately selected victims - to the targeting of what was perceived as an alternative, libertarian symbol. The attacks certainly triggered increased security measures and more exclusive politics towards migration, with securitarian policies and increased border control. As they were followed by other brutal acts of violence in France in November and in Belgium the following year, they contributed to calls for and practices of states of emergency that further reduced civil and political rights. The attacks also further influenced the reactions to the so-called "refugee crisis" in 2015 and 2016, as fears about the "terrorists" potentially hidden among the asylum seekers often trumped compassion towards them. While similar acts of political violence often have important consequences, in particular in terms of the policy responses to them - as frequently represented in the literature on terrorism and counter-terrorism - we want to address a specific effect of the Charlie Hebdo attacks by looking at the public debates produced by the event. This perspective seems particularly relevant as acts of clandestine political violence tend to have consequences especially at the symbolic level (della Porta 2015). The forms of action and its victims are part of the message that the perpetrators want to spread. In fact, they do not aim just at terrorizing, but also at articulating - to a certain extent at least - their claims through their deeds. While the violent actors send signals, their message is filtered and brokered as it enters a complex communication field. Indeed, violent acts work as catalyzers of discursive turns, as they are channeled within public spheres in which words, in addition to deeds, have significance"--

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In the latter, after the deadly attack on the Twin Towers in New York City on September 11, 2001, the bombs in Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005 shocked the public. Given the religious beliefs and claims of the perpetrators, the ensuing debate revolved around a predictable cleavage. On one side, the Right called for law and order, rallying around the protection of Christian values against invasion by Islam (and migrants in general). On the other side were those defending the values of inclusion and pluralism, as well as migrants\' rights overall. The fact that the target of the January 2015 attacks was a journal long identified with the left challenged the established path of argumentation. The right now had to defend freedom of speech for what was often considered a blasphemous outlet. On the left, the argument now had to consider potential limitations not only on free speech, but also on tolerance and pluralism. The attacks thus produced a short circuit, collapsing the debate on several issues related to various dimensions of citizenship, from freedom to security. They did so in a highly emotional atmosphere in which an in- versus out-polarization tended to rise, with Islam emerging as the core definitional element of the attackers and, therefore, of the problem itself. Indeed, the Charlie Hebdo attacks signaled a shift in the strategies of Islamist political violence from targeting the symbols of institutions of Western power - as with the September 11 attacks or the disruptive bombings of public transportation, with indiscriminately selected victims - to the targeting of what was perceived as an alternative, libertarian symbol. The attacks certainly triggered increased security measures and more exclusive politics towards migration, with securitarian policies and increased border control. As they were followed by other brutal acts of violence in France in November and in Belgium the following year, they contributed to calls for and practices of states of emergency that further reduced civil and political rights. The attacks also further influenced the reactions to the so-called \"refugee crisis\" in 2015 and 2016, as fears about the \"terrorists\" potentially hidden among the asylum seekers often trumped compassion towards them. While similar acts of political violence often have important consequences, in particular in terms of the policy responses to them - as frequently represented in the literature on terrorism and counter-terrorism - we want to address a specific effect of the Charlie Hebdo attacks by looking at the public debates produced by the event. This perspective seems particularly relevant as acts of clandestine political violence tend to have consequences especially at the symbolic level (della Porta 2015). The forms of action and its victims are part of the message that the perpetrators want to spread. In fact, they do not aim just at terrorizing, but also at articulating - to a certain extent at least - their claims through their deeds. While the violent actors send signals, their message is filtered and brokered as it enters a complex communication field. 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