On January 7, 2015 an attack on the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris led to the death of twelve people. Following the attack, people from around the world united in defense of free speech, the foundation of democracy. The actions of a few have ignited discussions about how free societies can share different points of views, without fear of violence. Recently, in the United States, we have seen similar fractures in Ferguson and New York. How can integrated societies work through difference of opinions without resorting to violence, while ensuring the individual’s right to express their point-of-view. Are there limitations to freedom of speech?
This discussion examined questions that are surfacing in the aftermath of the terror incidents in France, such as:
The conversation included Dr. Lindsay Sarah Krasnoff (NYU MA '02). She considered the response of the French sports world, while Dr. Kathryn Kleppinger (NYU PhD '11) explored the roots of the conflict, which can be seen clearly through recent novels written by authors from the North African population in France. Discussing racial tensions both in the US and abroad was Dr. Jennifer James, Associate Professor of English and Director of the Africana Studies Program at The George Washington University. Delphine Halgand has been working as the Director of the Washington, DC office for Reporters Without Borders and spoke about how these events have made an impact on the free press. Previously, Delphine served as Press attaché in charge of outreach at the French Embassy to the US. This discussion was moderated by NYU Professor, Rodney Benson.
Rodney Benson is associate professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication. He is also an affiliated faculty member in the NYU Dept. of Sociology and has been a visiting scholar or invited lecturer at universities in France (Toulouse IEP, Paris EHESS), Germany (Universities of Bremen and Weimar), Denmark (Copenhagen Business School, Roskilde University), Norway (University of Oslo), and Finland (University of Helsinki).
Benson's research lies at the intersection of the sociology of culture, the sociology of globalization, political communication, and journalism studies.
Benson is the author of Shaping Immigration News: A French-American Comparison (Cambridge, 2013) and co-author (with Matthew Powers) of the Free Press policy report Public Media and Political Independence (2011). He is also the editor (with Erik Neveu) of Bourdieu and the Journalistic Field (Polity, 2005).
His numerous articles on comparative media research, media and immigration, the U.S. and French (and other European) news media, and the theories of Bourdieu and Habermas have been published in such journals as Press/Politics, The American Sociologist, Poetics, Political Communication, American Sociological Review, European Journal of Communication, Media, Culture & Society, Theory and Society, French Politics, Culture & Society, and Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales. He has also published articles of media criticism in the Christian Science Monitor, AlJazeera.com, Le Monde Diplomatique, and the Miami Herald.
Benson has also written book chapters on U.S. alternative newsweeklies in Contesting Media Power (Rowman and Littlefield, 2003, J. Curran and N. Couldry, eds.), comparative media research in The Routledge Companion to News Media and Journalism Studies (Routledge, 2009, S. Allan, ed.), journalism and the internet in New Media, Old News (Sage, 2009, N. Fenton, ed.), reconceptualizing media sociology in Media Sociology: A Reappraisal (Polity, 2014, S. Waisbord, ed.), and de-westerning media theory in Internationalizing International Communication (Michigan, in press, C.C. Le, ed.).
He serves on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Press/Politics and Politiques de Communication.
Benson has taught the PhD and MA core theory seminars, a PhD/MA course on comparative media systems/production of culture (cross-listed with sociology), and undergraduate courses on media and globalization, public relations and the public sphere, and production of culture.
Prior to joining the NYU faculty, he was assistant professor of international communications and sociology at The American University of Paris. He holds a PhD in sociology from the University of California-Berkeley.
Delphine Halgand - Delphine has been working as the Director of the Washington DC office for Reporters Without Borders since December 2011. She runs the US activities for the organization and advocates for journalists, bloggers and media rights worldwide. Acting as RWB’s spokesperson in the US, Delphine regularly appears on American (PBS, Democracy Now, Wall Street Journal,…), foreign media (BBC, Al Jazeera, NTN24,…) and lectures at conferences in US universities (Harvard University, UCLA, Yale…) on press freedom violation issues. Previously, she served as Press attaché in charge of outreach at the French Embassy to the US. Since graduating from Sciences Po Paris with an M.A. in Journalism, Delphine has worked as an economics correspondent for various French media (Le Monde, Les Echos, L’Express,...), focusing mainly on international politics and macroeconomic issues.
Jennifer James is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Africana Studies Program at The George Washington University. She is the author of A Freedom Bought with Blood: African American War Literature, the Civil War-World War II (UNCP 2007). Professor James is currently working on books, The Navassa Island Riot: Black Labor Consciousness in the Gilded Age, an examination of a 19th century black labor uprising, and Black Jack: Andrew Jackson and African American Cultural Memory, which examines the history of three generations of her family enslaved by Andrew Jackson to consider how Jackson is remembered, imagined and represented in African American culture. Her recent scholarship has appeared in American Literary History, Environmental Criticism for the 21st Century and the Journal of Ecocriticism. Professor James also lived and studied in France during the 1980’s.
Dr. Kathryn Kleppinger, NYU Alum and Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies, The George Washington University. Her research focuses on French literature by authors of North African heritage, particularly written by young adults living in France’s economically marginalized outer-ring regions (banlieues). Her forthcoming book, Branding the “Beur” Author: Minority Writing and the Media in France, 1983-2013 (Liverpool University Press, Fall 2015) considers the history of literature and political contestation within the North African population of France. She has also published on literature written in French by authors from Africa as well as current literary movements in France.
Dr. Lindsay Sarah Krasnoff, NYU Alum. Lindsay serves as a historian in the Office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State, where she focuses on U.S. relations with Western Europe. A French sports history specialist, her book, The Making of Les Bleus: Sport in France, 1958-2010 (Lexington Books, 2013), examines Fifth Republic sports policies and youth development programs. Lindsay received her doctorate in History from the Graduate Center, City University of New York, holds an M.A. in Journalism and French Studies from New York University, and a B.A. in International Affairs from The George Washington University.
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