Terrorism, governmentality and the simulated city: the Boston Marathon bombing and the search for suspect two

Robert J. Topinka

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    4 Citations (Scopus)
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    This article examines the online circulation of a photograph of the immediate aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings taken by David Green, a Boston Marathon runner. The photograph fortuitously captured an image of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger Tsarnaev brother, running from the scene. Initially, Tsarnaev went unnoticed by online message board users and FBI investigators – he was just another face in the urban crowd. However, after he was identified as suspect two, he emerged in the photograph as the figure of terror, the condensed embodiment of the spectacular attack, and thus as a spectre, a figure whose appearance in the archive of the past haunts the future. The author examines how this spectral emergence simultaneously reveals the attack terrorism launches against everyday mediations and how everyday mediations respond to terrorist spectacle. He argues that photography sustains vernacular practices that also support the practices of urban governmentality. Understanding urban governmentality thus requires attending to the urban archive of visual mediation in which the relationships between past and present, image and reality, and surveillance and spectacle are always contingent and open to revision.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)351-370
    Number of pages20
    JournalVisual Communication
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


    • terrorism
    • urban
    • governmentality
    • digital
    • photography
    • surveillance
    • archive
    • spectacle

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