Shift or Stasis| The 2015 Charlie Hebdo Killings, Media Event-chains and Global Political Responses

Annabelle Sreberny


The forms and flows of global media coverage of the Charlie Hebdo assassinations of January 2015 compel a reexamination of cherished nostrums in media studies. Limited coverage of analogous lethal attacks elsewhere suggests the privileging of certain historical narratives over others and pinpoints the urgency of honing concepts adequate to the mediated processes in play. Current notions of integrative global media events and of a rational global public sphere demand to be replaced by far more supple heuristics that engage with these attacks from the perspective of cultural history and prioritize “thick” description. Clashing narratives around colonialism, Islamophobia, and free speech circulate instantaneously, yet some traumas receive priority in global coverage. Mere repetition of frozen concepts cannot do justice to a world of considerable violence and flux.


Charlie Hebdo, media events, event chains, history, globality

Full Text: