3. Making Ritual Enactments Political: Free Speech after the Charlie Hebdo Attacks
Zaki Nahaboo [+]
Birmingham City University
This chapter discusses how free speech emerged after the January 2015 attacks on Charlie Hebdo. It provides a new interpretation of free speech as a material event, which is irreducible to liberal understandings of free speech as a critical or harmful act. The chapter begins by drawing upon theories of ritual enactments and political subjectivity, so as to better identify the creative political dimensions of protest movements. This offers a basis for witnessing how free speech materialized in the Paris ‘Je suis Charlie’ movement and the Srinagar protests against Charlie Hebdo. The emergence of slogans and objects in demonstrations indicated the transformation of free speech into an object that can be defended or destroyed. In turn, the material crafting of free speech into physical objects, such as banners and effigies, reveal free speech as a clash between iconographic and iconoclastic practices. This chapter develops our understanding free speech’s materialization in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo killings.