Author Archives: Charlotte Cabasse-Mazel

Charlotte Cabasse-Mazel holds a PhD in Geography and Science and Technologies Studies from the University of Paris-Est, where she studied at the Laboratoire Techniques, Territoires et Sociétés (LATTS), at Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées. She is interested in the ways in which practices and methodologies of data science transform production of knowledge and interdisciplinary collaboration, as well as scientific personae and trajectories within the academic institution. Her PhD research focused on the creation of hybrid communities and the transformation of subjects (both resident/expert) and space, facing risk of natural disasters in the Bay Area of San Francisco. Previously researcher at EPFL, Switzerland, she worked on research projects questioning the definition of “science”, “society”, “future” and “risk”. She also participated to join research-action project with UN Agencies (ISRD, WHO) in Madagascar. Before going back to graduate school, she was a civil servant in French Embassy in South Africa and an NGO project coordinator for Aide Médicale Internationale (AMI) in Afghanistan and Indonesia. She also worked as a web and freelance journalist, having collaborated with French local and national newspapers. She received her MA in Cultural Geography from Université de Reims, France; and MA and BA in Information and Communications Sciences from Université de la Sorbonne, Paris, France.

Looking at the pain of others (on social media)

Reflections on the November 2015 Paris attacks from afar I can’t recall the last time I heard “La Marseillaise” [1] as often as I have in the past few weeks. This is never a great moment for me. As for many fellow French citizens, the vindictive and blood calling lyrics of our national anthem have always triggered a feeling somewhere between discomfort and straightforward rejection.[2] Things were not different on that Sunday morning, November 15, 2015. Like many others—Francophiles or not, Francophone or not, or French or not—I was struggling to find words to explain what happened in Paris on the night of Friday the 13th to my five and seven year old kids. I was thinking our family could later join the crowd gathering in front of the San Francisco City Hall to grieve collectively, which was important as we felt so far from friends and relatives, and powerless. But first I wanted to make sure that my kids’ first encounter with the piece would not be traumatizing as the news of events.[3] Indeed, as people around the world in an act of support and friendship were singing this patriotic march, as they were giving life to lyrics from—what seems like—another time, French and American airstrikes on ISIS headquarters in Raqqa, Syria [4] had already started and the word “war” was on everybody’s lips, with incredulity and sideration but also determination.[5] Following the multiple Paris attacks in the lively and popular 10th and 11th Paris arrondissements on November 13, 2015, I want to reflect on the complexity of witnessing from a distance, and engaging with, catastrophic events, disasters or, in this case, terrorist attacks. Whether we choose to pay attention or not, looking at, and participating in, the social construction of these events, has become part of our (almost) everyday lives. For those of us with computers, smartphones and social media accounts, looking at the unfolding of catastrophic events on our screens has become a routine of our modern life. But the way in which we engage with a crisis, a disaster, or a catastrophic event in social media frames the understanding of it for some time. Building on Susan Sontag and Virginia Woolf’s asynchronous discussion, I also want to reflect on questions of attachment and othering that emerged from this first moment of public definition. Along the way, I will also discuss the concept of resilience from an STS perspective, which has been used by journalists and politicians in the public debate as a performative concept (“we will be resilient”), within hours of the attacks. (read more...)