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

Lee Jarvis, Andrew Whiting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbersqad085
JournalInternational Studies Quarterly
Volume67
Issue number4
Early online date25 Oct 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Keywords

  • masculinity
  • gender
  • memory
  • terrorism
  • obituaries

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