Hear author Gérôme Truc on Shell-shocked: The Social Response to Terrorist Attacks

Author / sociologist Gérôme Truc dissects our response to terrorist attacks.

Author / sociologist Gérôme Truc dissects our response to terrorist attacks.

Whenever they occur, terrorist attacks elicit expressions of grief and solidarity from millions of people around the world. Why do so many feel intimately connected to events they may not have experienced personally?

Sociologist Gérôme Truc draws from his field work in cities targeted by terrorism to better understand the impact of terrorism on contemporary societies.

Gérôme Truc is a 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 with particular attention to moral and political sociology. He also wrote, Assumer l’humanité. Hannah Arendt: la responsabilité face à la pluralité (Editions de l’Université de Bruxelles, 2008

Shell Shocked movie poster

Break-through book: Shell Shocked explains contemporary societies’ response to the impact of terrorism.

“Je suis Charlie.” Revisiting how ordinary individuals lived through, and responded to, the attacks of 9/11, of 11 March 2004 in Madrid and 7 July 2005 in London, the author of Shell-shocked sheds new light on these events. Analyzing 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 — Truc reveals the vast ambiguity of our feelings about the Islamist attacks. And he brings out the sources of the solidarity that, in our individualistic societies, finds expression in the first person singular, rather than the first person plural: ‘I am Charlie’, ‘I am Paris.’

Like many who lived through one of these cataclysms, I remain residually shell shocked, and drawn to the subject. If that’s how you feel, (re)visit the 9/11 Memorial (Museum Auditorium, Atrium Terrace Level) to hear and question a sociologist who’s studied the subject in new depth. Details: Link via the red Calendar button below.

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In NYC, ‘Je suis Charlie’ solidarity with France — Beryl Goldberg photographs for GallicFever

10 JANUARY 2015. A day before millions mobilized in France for Je suis Charlie solidarity, hundreds assembled in New York City’s Washington Square Park to let France know we support freedom of expression from Paris to Timbuctu — and everywhere else. Without fear of being silenced by late-model weapons in the hands of terrorists.

The form of free expression chosen by one New Yorker in the park was dance . . . pole dance. As leather-clad Carolyn Chui slowly waved a Je suis Charlie placard from high above the crowd, onlookers smiled.”Only in New York,” commented Lamia, who’s from France via Algeria.

Carolyn danced to music of Chopin and Rachmaninoff, played by Colin Huggins on a grand piano. Especially haunting to my ear was Colin’s rendering of Yann Tierson’s, “Contine d’un autre été.” Tierson wrote his ‘little story of another summer’ — as I later learned, for  the movie, Amélie.” That frigid January Saturday [scroll down. . .]

Editor’s note: Play slide show, read captions and click comment link — just move your mouse over the photo mosaic.


was not the first time Colin played Chopin in the Greenwich Village venue, nor will it likely be the last. Where does he garage his grand piano? Wait for warmer weather, stop by the arch in Washington Square Park. . . and maybe he’ll tell you.

Colin’s fingers surely were ready to freeze — as were mine, and GallicFever photographer’s Beryl Goldberg’s. Beryl has photographed West African dance on location, but outdoor pole dance in New York was a first. For me, a chance to stand with the French couldn’t have been more welcome, once I discovered the Je suis Charlie invitation on the New York in French forum. French Institute Alliance France (FIAF), organized the bittersweet moment of Franco-U.S. solidarity.

Beryl and I had planned a second stop that Saturday afternoon: Albertine bookstore, uptown on Fifth Avenue. We’d long wanted to take some photos of my fave Franco-American cultural hotspot, but first we decided to warm up over hot chocolate at the Eighth Street branch of Vive la Crêpe. We thoroughly enjoyed the pleasant warmth of the shop, the French posters and our fresh fruit-filled crêpe. Tasty, and totally French — right? Only the former, since it’s a Mexican chain that opened their first Vive la Crêpe in Manhattan about five years ago.

At Albertine, I scoop up my budget-priced Folio paperback of Le Père Goriot, the Balzac novel we’ll read in the FIAF class I’m taking this semester. Meanwhile, Beryl has been shooting. We sit down in the shop’s upper level reading room and chose perfect photos of la belle Albertine, where the flower of French literature is shelved in both French and English editions. And where, every week, fascinating Franco-American cultural events inevitably attract full complements of my brothers and sisters in francofolie.

Reflections from a Paris kitchen window: blue and white

Who? Moi. Toujours francofolle — forever France-crazy. For some of the reasons, read About . . .

The Parc Monceau colonnade looks much the same today as it does in the old post card I found at a street market stand on a rainy spring day.

The Parc Monceau colonnade looks much the same today as it does in the old post card I found at a street market stand on a rainy spring day.

Where? My apartment exchanger’s comfy digs in the chic and calm 17th arrondissement. My adopted neighborhood, not far from the Arc de Triomphe, and anchored by lush Parc Monceau.

What? Views from the kitchen window, fifth-floor, looking out across the courtyard. And perhaps looking slightly inward. And maybe a few dispatches from the living room window. . . .

When? June 2014 . . . finally! Not a moment too soon, either — considering I’ve been living here since early April. And, before long, my kitchen will be a different one. I’ll move at the end of June to a new exchanger’s apartment, from which the views, naturally, must be different. (My Paris apartment exchanges will continue till the end of August, and then I’ll travel outside France for ten days or so. Then back to my NYC kitchen where the “window” offers me less clarity.)

The kitchen window in my spring 2014 exchange apartment (rue Jouffroy D'abbans, 17e) showed me a quiet courtyard, and more. . ..

The kitchen window in my spring 2014 exchange apartment (rue Jouffroy D’abbans, 17ème) showed me a quiet courtyard, and more. . ..

Why? The slothful blogger suddenly is moved to type! Not that I haven’t been pressing my laptop keys this spring. I most certainly have been — but to more specific purposes. (Read about those in Arts + Commerce, for instance, and in Le French +). From my kitchen window, you can get my observations on the pleasures of quotidian Paris, more or less in the same time frame as I live them. When the Paris sun chooses to shine full strength (not that often, but I love Paris gray, don’t you?), the effect can be incredibly

Mediterranean. Yes, the sky is so intensely, deeply, uniformly blue, the sun can’t help but radiate as if on the Riviera. Or in the Greek Islands.

The courtyard walls of the seven-storey house (I think it’s seven Continue reading