Talk with Mr. Gilles Verniers

On the 30th of January 2015, the Political Science Association organized a talk by Mr. Gilles Verniers on the recent Paris Attacks. Mr. Verniers is an assistant professor of political science at Ashoka University. He has been a visiting scholar at the Institute of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley and a part of several research projects including a project on democracy and visibility funded by the alliance programme at Columbia University. Mr. Gilles focused on the culture of offence that is prevalent in France and juxtaposed it to ideas of what is offensive in England and USA. He pointed out the special role that cartoon plays in satire and the specific kinds of criticisms that cartoonists attract to themselves. In order to explain the phenomenon of French Citizens joining the ISIS, Mr. Gilles referred to Mr. Devji’s ‘terrorists in search of humanity’.

According to those who prescribe to the school of thought that Devji prescribes to, the young recruits to terrorist groups often join the groups in order to feel purposeful. These people often feel a deep sense of injustice and often feel alienated from their own communities, making terrorist organizations an attractive alternative. The talk ended with a Q&A session where students asked questions associated with multiculturalism, secularism, religious tolerance and black humour.

-Neha Dewan

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