Encountering violence: terrorism and horrorism in war and citizenship

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Weber, Cynthia (2014)

This article introduces Adriana Cavarero's concept of “horrorism” into International Relations (IR) discussions of the relationship between war and citizenship. Horrorism refers to a violent violation of vulnerable humans who are defined by their simultaneous openness to the other's care and harm. With its motif of physical and ontological denigration, horrorism offends the human condition by making its victims gaze upon and/or experience repugnant violence and bodily disfiguration precisely when the vulnerable are most in need of care. The article argues that horrorism complicates disciplinary understandings of contemporary violence which tend to see terrorism, but not horrorism, in war and which generally neglect to theorize how violence—and particularly horrorism—is embedded in, and exchanged, through state/citizen relationships. To elaborate these arguments, the article analyses three pieces of war art: Jeremy Deller's “Baghdad, 5 March 2007,” Donald Gray's mural, “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” and a still image from Cynthia Weber's film, “Guadalupe Denogean: ‘I am an American.’” By taking the War on Terrorism as their subject, these pieces demonstrate how war makes visible the terror and horror in state/citizen relationships. The article concludes by reconsidering how encountering signs of horrorism might broaden our frames of war and further our empathic vision toward the precarious victims of horrorism or, alternatively, might confirm the patriotic allegiances of imperial citizens in ways that further bind their citizenship to state political and economic violence and narrow the scope for genuine empathy.
  • References (4)

    Massumi, Brian (2002) 'Introduction: Like a Thought', in id, ed. A Shock to Thought: Expression after Deleuze and Guattari. New York: Routledge.

    Nyers, Peter (2004) 'Introduction: What's Left of Citizenship?', Citizenship Studies 8(3):205-215.

    Shapiro, Michael (2008) 'Slow Looking: the Ethics and Politics of Aesthetics', Millennium 37(1):181- 197.

    Shapiro, Michael J (2012) Studies in Trans-Disciplinary Method: After the Aesthetic Turn. London: Routledge.

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