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Thomas Hoebel: Emplotments of Violence. On Narrative Explanations and their Audiovisual Data. [Abstract]

Today, researchers can make use of an immeasurable wealth of visual and audiovisual data to analyze instances that they consider as violent. Thus, this paper focuses on the question of how audiovisual data specifically contribute to making violent phenomena visible and thereby explaining them, but discusses it from a specific epistemological standpoint, which can be roughly outlined as an interest in how social phenomena in general and violent events in the narrower sense can be narratively interpreted and explained. To this end, it reflects on a case study on the so-called Charlie Hebdo Attacks in Paris in January 2015. The results are two arguments that might appear somewhat counterintuitive. First, stories are for sure an obvious methodological device for working on narrative explanations. However, like the term narrative, it is far too broad and misleading a category. It therefore makes sense to refrain from working on explanatory stories and to focus methodologically “only” on emplotments. Closely related to this, audiovisual data – secondly – then have a particular analytical status in the research process. While they are also, especially in violence research, considered as something with which much more detailed analyses are possible than without them, this is not necessarily the main point for the narrative analysis of violent emplotments. Here, they enable first of all the discovery of crucial happenings that shape a plot. In this way, audiovisual data are decisive in not imposing stories on an event that follow modern narrative conventions rather than exploring the factual causation of the event.

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