This article examines “security rituals,” routinized and repetitive performances of security practices, and their role in reproducing US nationalism and militarism. It argues that the security ritual as a form emerges out of the Cold War. Its revival in the war on terror era, which has seen a massive expansion of the national security state, marks a continuity of Cold War emotion management and national security affect. Employing Michael Billig’s concepts of “hot” and “banal” nationalism, the article contends that the nationwide “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign forms the core of banal security nationalism, characterized by its ubiquitous and taken-for-granted presence in daily life. This form of nationalism is punctuated by moments of hot nationalism that erupt in the wake of attacks perpetrated by Muslims in the United States and other Western countries. Together, banal and hot nationalism form part of a complex that serves to normalize the global war on terror. Further, in the twenty-first century, racialized notions of national belonging coexist with the “clash of civilizations” logic, bringing together nationalism with globalism.
See Something, Say Something: Security Rituals, Affect, and US Nationalism from the Cold War to the War on Terror
Deepa Kumar is a professor of media studies at Rutgers University. She is the author of Outside the Box: Corporate Media, Globalization, and the UPS Strike (2007) and Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire (2012). Her articles have appeared in scholarly journals as well as independent media. She has shared her expertise in national and international news media outlets including the BBC, the New York Times, NPR, USA Today, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, and Telesur.
Deepa Kumar; See Something, Say Something: Security Rituals, Affect, and US Nationalism from the Cold War to the War on Terror. Public Culture 1 January 2018; 30 (1): 143–171. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-4189203
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