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San Francisco Art Book Fair 1275 Minnesota Street San Francisco, CA 94107
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Gérôme Truc

Gérôme Truc is the author of the essay Shell-shocked: The Social Response to Terrorist Attacks (Polity Books, december 2017).


Gérôme Truc is a sociologist, tenured research fellow at the CNRS and member of the Institut des Sciences sociales du Politique. He teaches at the École normale supérieure Paris-Saclay. Truc’s work focuses primarily on social reactions to terrorist attacks, paying particular attention to moral and political sociology. His published works include Assumer l’humanité. Hannah Arendt : la responsabilité face à la pluralité (Editions de l’Université de Bruxelles, 2008) and Shell Shocked: The Social Response to Terrorist Attacks (Polity Press). 

About the book: Shell Shocked: The Social Response to Terrorist Attacks

What is it that leaves us shell shocked in the face of the massacres carried out in New York on 9/11 or in Paris on 13 November 2015? How are we to explain the intensity of the reaction to the attacks on Charlie Hebdo? Answering these questions involves trying to understand what a society goes through when it is subjected to the ordeal of terrorist attacks. And it impels us to try to explain why millions of people feel so concerned and shaken by them, even when they do not have a direct connection with any of the victims.

In Shell Shocked, sociologist Gérôme Truc sheds new light on these events, returning to the ways in which ordinary individuals lived through and responded to the attacks of 9/11, of 11 March 2004 in Madrid and 7 July 2005 in London. Analysing the political language and the media images, the demonstrations of solidarity and the minutes of silence, as well as the tens of thousands of messages addressed to the victims, his investigation reveals all the ambiguity of our feelings about the Islamists’ attacks. And it brings out the sources of the solidarity that, in our individualistic societies, ultimately finds expression in the first person singular rather than the first person plural: ‘I am Charlie’, ‘I am Paris’.

This timely and path-breaking book will appeal to students and scholars in sociology and politics and to anyone interested in understanding the impact of terrorism in contemporary societies.


SUGGESTED TALKS

What does it mean to feel concerned by a terrorist attack? A sociological insight

What is it that leaves us shell shocked in the face of the massacres carried out in New York on 9/11 or in Paris in January and November 2015? Why do millions of people feel so concerned and shaken by terrorist attacks even when they do not have a direct connection with any of the victims? As a sociologist, Gérôme Truc helps us understand what a society goes through when it is subjected to the ordeal of terrorist attacks. Analyzing political language and media images, demonstrations of solidarity and moments of silence, as well as the tens of thousands of messages addressed to the victims in New York, Madrid, London, and Paris, his investigation examines the complexity of the feelings expressed in western societies following the Islamists' attacks. It also uncovers the sources of the solidarity that, in our individualistic societies, ultimately finds expression in the first person singular rather than the first person plural: 'I am Charlie', 'I am Paris.' 

- Paris in shock: the social response to 2015 terrorist attacks

As opposed to 9/11, the terrorist attacks that occurred in Paris in 2015 did not destroy and alter the architecture of the city. In a way, Paris' public areas could bear no trace of the events. However, the terrorist attacks happened in several parts of the city, during two different periods of the year. And, each time, most of the attacks took place in the same lively and densely inhabited neighborhood, which could be named after what became its symbolic center, the “Republic Square”. This paradoxical situation led to a large diversity in expressions of emotion, grief, and memory in the public area of the French capital. Gérôme Truc’s talk takes stock of an ethnographic fieldwork on the social responses to these attacks since November 2015, and of the study of tributes to the victims left at memorial sites, which are part of an on-going research project he leads on social reactions to terrorist attacks (https://reat.hypotheses.org/), in line with his book Shell Shocked: The Social Response to Terrorist Attacks (Polity, 2018).

- Pursuing sociology in time of terror? Responses to terrorist attacks as  a social process

What can social sciences do in the face of terrorist attacks? Can they help us understand what we experience in these situations and the way we respond to them? And what data or materials can a sociologist use to do so? Sociologist Gérôme Truc, author of Shell Shocked : The Social Response to Terrorist Attacks (Polity, 2018), has been working on this topic for over 10 years. In his talk, he will reflect on his previous studies on the social reactions observed in Europe after the 9/11, Madrid, and London attacks, and on the research project he is currently leading about the 2015 Paris attacks (https://reat.hypotheses.org/). 


PROGRAM

Tentative dates, dates will be confirmed shortly

OCT 15: University of Maryland

OCT 16: Washington: French Embassy

OCT 17/18: New York (9/11 Memoriam Museum)


TO BOOK AN EVENT WITH THE AUTHOR

Note that we have limited funding available for our tours. Please let us know if you would be able to arrange for domestic travel to/from the event. If you would like to invite this author to speak at your university or bookstore, please fill out the application form and email it to Anne-Sophie Hermil.

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