Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2019
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
On Terror and Trauma: The Case for Compensation in the Wake of the November 13, 2015 Attacks in France

My dissertation investigates the multiple grammars of trauma, survival, and witnessing in France in the wake of November 13, 2015, when a series of coordinated terrorist attacks on the Bataclan theater, cafés in Paris, and the Stade de France, claimed the lives of 130 people. 4000 individuals filed a suit seeking compensation from a Guarantee Fund for Victims of Terrorist Acts (FGTI) created in 1986. Meanwhile, memory historians and psycho-neurologists launched a 12-year "11/13" Research Program to collect video testimonies and magnetic resonance images (MRI) from survivors, police officers, fire-fighters, and doctors who experienced the attacks. As testimonies are being processed for financial compensation, on the one hand, and for a science of memory on the other, a paradox arises: if the ideal "survivor" for the psycho-neurologist is she who overcomes her Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), for the purposes of trauma compensation, she must remain symptomatic. Who is considered a "survivor," and as such an insider to trauma, and who is denied compensation as a "mere" witness? This conundrum embeds the production, circulation, and contestation of the evidence substantiating trauma and determining its compensation in the wake of the November 13, 2015 attacks. Combining insights from anthropologies of law, trauma, and science studies, my research on the case for compensation in the wake of the November 13, 2015 attacks will investigate an ongoing transformation of reparation politics at the intersection of memory science and counter-terrorism.