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Collectivity and the Digital in French Thought and Culture


Edited By Susie Cronin, Sofia Ropek Hewson and Cillian Ó Fathaigh

The relation between the digital and the collective has become an urgent contemporary question. These collected essays explore the implications of this relation, around the theme of #NousSommes. This hashtag marks the point where the «personal» modalities of social media have become embroiled in collective expressions of unity, solidarity and resistance. As this volume demonstrates, the impact of this cannot be isolated to the internet, but affect philosophy, literature, cinema, politics and the public space itself. The contributors approach the issue of #NousSommes from a diverse range of disciplines and methodologies, bringing out both the continuity and discontinuity with other forms of collective expression. Important contemporary philosophers such as Nancy, Derrida and Deleuze are engaged here, as are issues of ecology, community, automation, postcolonial identity and addiction. Featuring eight academic essays and an interview, this volume testifies to the importance of French philosophy and culture in understanding the digital and the collective today.

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Introducing #NousSommes


#JeSuisCharlie. #WeAreOrlando. #NousSommesStrasbourg. These are simply a few examples of a new idiom and phenomenon that has emerged, whereby the ‘personal’ modalities of social media become embroiled in collective expressions of unity, solidarity and resistance. How do we read these digital signifiers? These hashtags bear attachments of grief, pity, trauma, pain, but also represent messages of collectivity, community, courage, strength and hope. The meaning of these apparently simple formulations is fundamentally ambiguous. While these hashtags may at one and the same time appear clear and univocal, and have reached the point of almost constituting one of multiple forms of expected responses to traumatic events, they also open up new and fundamental questions about violence, trauma, collectivity and identity in the age of the digital. What makes these articulations particular, and what makes the digital dimension worthy of special attention in its scope for accommodating articulations of solidarity, struggle, despair on the one hand, and hope, collectivity, community on the other? Does the digital hold this power on account of its limitlessness, its intangibility, its ability to inspire utopian rewritings as a kind of space beyond the present, the immediate, physical world? This volume seeks to address these issues from a rich diversity of angles, precisely converging around the theme of #NousSommes/#WeAre.

It was only four years ago, on 7 January 2015, that the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack took place. Twelve people were killed, and eleven were injured. The tragedy was met by political, social and communal...

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