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When the 'Other' Becomes 'Us': Mediated Representations,'Terrorism' and the 'War on Terror'

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Abstract:

The aim of this paper is to elaborate on the use of one of the rhetorical techniques employed in the political and mediated representation of 'Islamist terrorists' by the British print media in the aftermath of the London bombings of July 7th, 2005. This technique consists of the emphasis on making 'terrorism' and its perpetrators look 'foreign', by creating an opposition between the Nation and the 'Other' (Said, 1997). This opposition is questionable from, at least, two perspectives. On the one hand, this polarisation depends on the position of who produces the discourse. The British reaction to the bombings was a patriotic one which sought to protect the British Nation against the 'foreign enemy' (Bulley, 2008). On the other hand, though, taking into account that the bombers of July 7th were actually British, it is possible to question the actual meaning of 'us' and 'them', as well as the term 'foreign', since the 'Other' is, in this context, also a part of 'us'. The consequence is an ambiguous division between 'known' and 'unknown', 'good' and 'evil', which does not only occur in rhetorical terms, but which is also visible in ongoing conflicts, and ha an impact on the 'clash of civilisations' concept.

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