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American Encounters/Global Interactions

September 11 in History: A Watershed Moment?

Edited by
Mary L. Dudziak
Mary L. Dudziak

Mary L. Dudziak is Judge Edward J. and Ruey L. Guirado Professor of Law and History at the University of Southern California Law School. She is the author of Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy.

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Duke University Press
ISBN electronic:
978-0-8223-8493-9
Publication date:
2003

Hours after the collapse of the Twin Towers, the idea that the September 11 attacks had “changed everything” permeated American popular and political discussion. In the period since then, the events of September 11 have been used to justify profound changes in U.S. public policy and foreign relations. Bringing together leading scholars of history, law, literature, and Islam, September 11 in History asks whether the attacks and their aftermath truly marked a transition in U.S. and world history or whether they are best understood in the context of pre-existing historical trajectories.

From a variety of perspectives, the contributors to this collection scrutinize claims about September 11, in terms of both their historical validity and their consequences. Essays range from an analysis of terms like “ground zero,” “homeland,” and “the axis of evil” to an argument that the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay has become a site for acting out a repressed imperial history. Examining the effect of the attacks on Islamic self-identity, one contributor argues that Osama bin Laden enacted an interpretation of Islam on September 11 and asserts that progressive Muslims must respond to it. Other essays focus on the deployment of Orientalist tropes in categorizations of those who “look Middle Eastern,” the blurring of domestic and international law evident in a number of legal developments including the use of military tribunals to prosecute suspected terrorists, and the justifications for and consequences of American unilateralism. This collectionultimately reveals that everything did not change on September 11, 2001, but that some foundations of democratic legitimacy have been significantly eroded by claims that it did.

Contributors

Khaled Abou el Fadl

Mary L. Dudziak

Christopher L. Eisgruber

Laurence R. Helfer

Sherman A. Jackson

Amy B. Kaplan

Elaine Tyler May

Lawrence G. Sager

Ruti G. Teitel

Leti Volpp

Marilyn B. Young

Table of Contents

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