Monsters, heroes, martyrs and their storytellers: the enduring attraction of culturally embedded narratives in the 'War on Terror'

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This paper begins by exploring how traditional Manichean and binary narratives, which are familiar to us from fairy-tales, were used to justify the ‘War on Terror’ and then engages with the feminist and critical scholarship which argues that such narratives helped silence the wider geopolitical and legal discussions. Whilst this paper concurs with the large volume of literature that concludes that the heroic narrative obscures the political reality and marginalises the subjects of this narrative, it takes issue with some of the assumptions underlying this literature. This paper argues that many feminist scholars who critique the heroic narrative of the ‘War on Terror’ have fallen victim to the same oversimplification that the narrative itself deploys. While those scholars are correct to identify the operation of the heroic narrative within the rhetoric on the ‘War on Terror’, their continued focus solely on this narrative masks the more complex racialised and identity narratives that also operate within this rhetoric.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-101
Number of pages19
JournalLiverpool Law Review
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2013


  • binary narratives
  • War on Terror
  • geopolitical discussions
  • legal discussions
  • oversimplification

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