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Barbarism and Its Discontents$
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Maria Boletsi

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780804782760

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804782760.001.0001

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Thinking Barbarism Today

Thinking Barbarism Today

(p.39) 2 Thinking Barbarism Today
Barbarism and Its Discontents
Stanford University Press

This chapter examines the current discursive landscape around culture, civilization, and barbarism in the turn it took after the Cold War and the collapse of communist regimes in Europe, and especially after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 in the United States. It presents examples from recent Western political rhetoric, especially the rhetoric of the U.S. government after 9/11, and considers some critical responses to this rhetoric. The striking frequency with which the terms “barbarism” and “barbarian” come up in political rhetoric since 9/11 implies a rekindling of debates around the notions of culture, civilization, and barbarism. After 9/11, Mahmood Mamdani argues that culture is projected as “the dividing line between those in favor of a peaceful, civic existence and those inclined to terror.” This “culturalization” of political conflict goes hand in hand with a moralization of global conflicts and is expressed in Samuel Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1996). This chapter also explores the rhetoric of “zero tolerance” and its relation to a discursive strand that advocates tolerance and human rights.

Keywords:   culture, civilization, barbarism, terrorist attacks, zero tolerance, barbarian, 9/11, political rhetoric, culturalization, Samuel Huntington

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