War, media and the political; contemporary discursive struggles in the Western public realm
In this project, my main purpose is to inquire upon the political in the West today, in discourses of the (so-called) war on terror. Understood as primarily a discursive struggle for the hegemonic closure of the social, the political will be empirically inquired in different media of the western public realm. The framing of the political in the era of the war on terror aims to foreground the historical contingency of the social, and to critically demonstrate the construction of identities and chains of equivalence (as well as logics of difference) of the contrasting logics behind the hegemony of war and the opposition towards it. The engagement with the media relates to the acknowledgement of the nodal position the media hold in modern politics. The empirical focus of this project begins with the study of the universals in the discourse of the war on terror, as manifested by main protagonists of its declaration; I would like to argue that the universalistic declarations of war are organised in two main nodal points: security and development; these discourses can be traced in a series of public speeches, press releases, briefings and official proclamations made by the Bush administration between the years 2001 and 2008. From there on, the focus will be upon the media; the purpose is to trace the articulation of these discourses of security and development in the mainstream media and in alternative media. Two comparative cases will be studied by deploying indicative media texts as empirical material. The diverse texts deployed for empirical research can be categorised under the broad denominator of ‘reality’ genres – mainly news and documentary films. Departing from the analysis of the hegemony of war, the study will look at two comparative cases of media representation. The first case will involve discourse analysis on documentary films, focussing on security: a channel 4 documentary film that looks at the attack on the London transportation system on 7/7/2005, and Michael Moore’s famous Fahrenheit 9/11. The second case will focus on the discourse of development. This discourse will be empirically grounded in the media representations of the 5 years of the Iraq war. In this case I will focus on television and in particular on US television performance; despite the hegemonic presence of the US in politics today, and in this war in particular, I am interested in studying US television because alternative TV networks with full program also exist. These alternative TV networks are available to publics through cable television, and have a long and established presence. More specifically, I will compare the representation of Iraq today (2008) in the coverage of the 5 year war conduct on ABC news and in the ‘Democracy Now’ news network.