Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Politics and International Relations

Second Department

French Studies

Reader 1

Mark Golub

Reader 2

Nathalie Rachlin

Rights Information

© 2015 Madison J. Welsh


On January 7th, 2015, two gunmen attacked the Paris offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Later identified as two French brothers of Algerian descent linked to Al-Qaeda, the shooting was perceived as a targeted and deliberate attack on the freedom of speech. Millions throughout the world declared "Je suis Charlie," in solidarity with the victims and in defense of free speech. Critics argued back and forth over whether Charlie Hebdo's right to free speech is in fact absolute, or if it's content could be considered hate speech. This thesis offers an alternative angle to this discourse, and that is a discussion on the narratives of French identity at play within the Je suis Charlie movement. What did it mean to declare oneself Charlie? Who was not Charlie, and why? These are the questions I seek to answer in my thesis by placing the event within the historical context of French Enlightenment, Revolution, and colonialism.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.