Date of Graduation

Spring 5-19-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)


College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

First Advisor

John Zarobell

Second Advisor

Nora Fisher-Onar


In 2015, France was rocked by a series of terror attacks that seemed to act as a tipping point for the fears and tensions that had been brewing in Europe in the months leading up to the strike. These attacks, and the subsequent responses to them, point to the influence of a much longer history of French involvement in the Middle East, and the lasting impact that colonization has on French national identity formation. With the creation of French national identity, and therefore the creation of the group that is deemed necessarily outside of this identity, the moral values and priorities at the heart of the identity are revealed. Although the cornerstones of national identity are fairly stagnant–a shared, communal history–the day-to-day realities of national identity can shift to reflect the anxieties of a given period. During the post-colonial period, these figures were harnessed to redefine boundaries of French national belonging, boundaries which are still visible in common understandings of the national community today. Analyzing how the figures of the “French National” and the “Other” are constructed–the other transforming from the ‘colonial other’ to the figure of the terrorist– exposes the true mutability of these figures. Though these figures themselves may be imagined, the impact they can have on national sentiment and national policy are concrete and can having a lasting influence over policies domestically and abroad. The media plays a substantial role in the development and reinforcement of these narratives and can shift the focus of national conversations in the wake of terror attacks. How certain aspects of national identity are constructed for the specific exclusion of other groups can be seen throughout the media responses to the attacks, and grasping this phenomenon is becoming increasingly more important increasingly interconnected and borders become increasingly porous.