Charlie Hebdo and the Appeal for French Context: Black and White Analytics

Attentat contre le journal Charlie Hebdo : vers l’exacerbation de la xénophobie et de l’islamophobie, Algerie Patriotique, 7 January 2015
Attentat contre le journal Charlie Hebdo : vers l’exacerbation de la xénophobie et de l’islamophobie, Algerie Patriotique, 7 January 2015

I have published a short piece on Charlie Hebdo and antiracism, based on a longer chapter co-written with Gavan Titley, in Public Seminar.

The attacks on the offices of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in January 2015, during which fourteen people were killed, pose a specific problem for the white left. The call to contextualize Charlie Hebdo foregrounded a structurally white French context, in which people of colour and Muslims could be included only as loyal subjects of the Republic. The translations of France offered by French and Francophile leftists for their “Anglo-American” interlocutors, while revealing of the French dynamics of secularism, universalism, and coloniality, marginalised those “who could not be Charlie.” Instead, to use Barnor Hesse’s formulation, a “white analytics” was advanced that denied the centrality of the “black analytics” crucial for a complete understanding of both historical and contemporary French conflicts around race and religion (Hesse 2014). “Context,” therefore, stand in for racial neutrality: in reality, an impossibility.

Read more on the Public Seminar website


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