Advertisement

Persistence of Memory? The (New) Surrealism of American Security Policy

Chapter
  • 358 Downloads

Abstract

An interesting technology of remembrance has localized around the events of 9/11, a series of representations that is essential to understanding contemporary American security policy. The power/relations of remembrance have participated in the constitution of a series of interwoven parables that have formed particular matrices of meaning, all of which paint pictures of (geo)politics, the American Self, the American Other, and the legitimate range of policy possibility in the post-9/11 world. As such, Jenny Edkins has argued, the aesthetic contours of the dominant forms of memorialization in the United States in response to 9/11 have, in combination with the social practices of securitization and criminalization, reinserted linear narratives and previously constructed scripts of global politics, American hegemony, and the legitimate exercise of political voice.2 Thus, the coping strategy brought about by the routinized remembrance of the trauma of 9/11 has been one that has instantiated a form of collective anterograde amnesia (i.e., the inability to form alternate memories) that draws meaning from one (and only one) contextual environment of interpretation. The routinization of remembrance has taken many forms from official memorial services on the anniversary of 9/11 to collections of poetry, songs, and reflections cataloged on various Internet websites. Even the homeland defense system institutionalized by the American federal government is a type of memorial with increases in the level of alertness drawing upon the fears that the American public experienced in the aftermath of 9/11.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 2.
    Jenny Edkins, “Forget Trauma? Responses to September 11,” International Relations, 16:2 (2002): 252–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 3.
    David Campbell, Politics Without Principle: Sovereignty, Ethics, and the Narratives of the Gulf War (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1993), pp. 7–8.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Related to this observation, Maja Zehfuss has argued that “what is, or indeed what was, isn’t actually the point. The point is what is done, to be doing something. The actionism of the high-tech war effort nicely covers up the fact that we are at a complete loss as to how to respond to ‘the events of September 11.’ “ See Maja Zehfuss, “Forget September 11th,” Third World Quarterly, 24:3 (2003): 522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 6.
    For example see Michael Hirsh, “Bush and the World,” Foreign Affairs, 81:5 (2002): 18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Michael Howard, “What’s in a Name?: How to Fight Terrorism,” Foreign Affairs, 81:1 (2002): 8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Kenneth M. Pollack, “Next Stop Baghdad?” Foreign Affairs, 81:2 (2002): 32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    See Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998).Google Scholar
  8. 16.
    Sight/site/cite refers to the subjects, objects, and texts that are constitutive of identity. See Gearoid O’tuathail, Critical Geopolitics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), pp. 43Google Scholar
  9. 24.
    This is not to say that hegemonic actors do not try and play this role. See Roxanne Lynn Doty, Imperial Encounters: The Politics of Representation in North-South Relations (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996).Google Scholar
  10. 25.
    Lene Hansen, “The Little Mermaid’s Silent Security Dilemma and the Absence of Gender in the Copenhagen School,” Millennium, 29:2 (2000): 301–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 28.
    Performatives of the American Self have been operationalized and reaffirmed through the enactment of specific policies that are set to respond to terrorism. But as Butler reminds us, “performativity is... not a single act for it is always a reiteration of a norm or set of norms, and to the extent that it acquires an act-like status in the present, it conceals or dissimulates the conventions of which it is a repetition.” Thus, to understand how current U.S. discourses and policies have become possible, one must look from where they have been derived and what makes them able to be reiterated, understood, and accepted. See Judith Butler, “Bodies that Matter,” in Feminist Theory and the Body, eds. Janet Price and Margrit Shildrick. (London: Routledge, 1999), p. 241.Google Scholar
  12. 36.
    Judith Butler, “Explanation and Exoneration, or What We Can Hear,” Theory and Event, 5:4 (2002): 8.Google Scholar
  13. 38.
    Deuxième Manifeste du surréalisme (1929). Quoted in [auMaurice Nadeau, The History of Surrealism (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1989), p. 54.Google Scholar
  14. 40.
    Quoted in Maurice Nadeau, The History of Surrealism (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1989), p. 117.Google Scholar
  15. 46.
    For further discussion of the paranoiac-critical method, see Sarane Alexandrian, Surrealist Art (London: Thames and Hudson, Ltd., 1991), p. 100Google Scholar
  16. 47.
    Federal Research Division Library of Congress, Nations Hospitable to Organized Crime and Terrorism (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 2003), p. 145.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Elizabeth Dauphinee and Cristina Masters 2007

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations