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Christiana Spens

The Portrayal and Punishment of Terrorists in Western Media

Playing the Villain

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ISBN: 978-3-030-04881-5
Verlag: Springer International Publishing
Format: Fester Einband
VII, 253 Seiten; 21 cm x 14.8 cm, 1st ed. 2019, 2019


This book explores how terrorists have been portrayed in the Western media, and the wider ideological and social functions of those representations. Developing a theory of scapegoating related to narrative closure, as well as an integrated, genealogical method of intervisuality, the book proposes a new way of thinking about how political images achieve power and influence the public. By connecting modern portrayals of terrorists (post-9/11) with historical and fictional images of villains from Western cultural history, the book argues that the portrayal and punishment of terrorists in the Western media implicitly perpetuates neo-Orientalist attitudes. It also explains that by repeating these narrative patterns through a ritual of scapegoating, Western media coverage of terrorists partakes in a social process that uses punishment, dehumanization and colonialist ideas to purge the iconic ‘villain’, so as to build national unity and sustain hegemonic power following crisis.


1: Introduction2: Towards a Theory of Scapegoating, Catharsis and Narrative Closure3: Towards a Method of Intervisuality4: A Genealogy of the Terrorist in Western Culture5: Portrayals of Terrorists6: Conclusion

Biografische Anmerkung zu den Verfassern

Christiana Spens is the author of Shooting Hipsters: Rethinking Dissent for the Age of PR, and writes for Prospect, Art Quarterly, Studio International and The New Strategist on politics, art and visual culture. She is also a founder and director of Truth Tellers, a research centre focused on art, trauma and international relations.