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(En)gendering the dead terrorist: (de)constructing masculinity in terrorist media obituaries

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-11-24, 13:44 authored by Lee JarvisLee Jarvis, Andrew Whiting

This article contributes to contemporary scholarship on gender, violence, and global politics by exploring how the figure of the terrorist is produced within mainstream media obituaries. It offers three arguments. First, the genre overwhelmingly positions the terrorist as a masculine figure. This positioning takes place, we demonstrate, in a variety of ways including through constructions of the character, family life, and “career” of those designated terrorist. Second, this masculinized figure is, importantly, a heterogenous one that negotiates “fighter,” “strategist,” and “leader” archetypes. These templates can co-exist, we argue, because of their common structural differentiation to the feminine: a position inhabited by supporting characters including wives and other male terrorists. The article's third argument is that the stability of this dominant figuration of the terrorist is also disrupted in obituaries via juxtaposition to more masculine figures, and through feminization of the deceased through constructions of cowardice, passivity, and vanity. In making these arguments, the article offers the first analysis of the masculinized storying of terrorism and terrorists in this almost entirely neglected genre. In so doing, it sheds new light on the obituary as an important mnemonic site for the everyday reproduction and problematization of global politics.

History

School

  • Social Sciences and Humanities

Department

  • International Relations, Politics and History

Published in

International Studies Quarterly

Volume

67

Issue

4

Publisher

Oxford University Press

Version

  • VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© The Author(s)

Publisher statement

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Publication date

2023-10-25

Copyright date

2023

ISSN

0020-8833

eISSN

1468-2478

Language

  • en

Depositor

Prof Lee Jarvis. Deposit date: 24 November 2023

Article number

sqad085

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