Notes from Tourists of History


By Marita Sturken


Chapter 1 · Consuming Fear and Selling Comfort

"How is it that fear of an enemy and an abstract sense of danger have shaped national identity and notions of citizenship?" (38)

idea of the external threat ...constant endangerment of the state

"imperialist policies expressed through and justified by concepts of security" (38)

security as acquisition

"the home has been defined as a primary territory of defense and the nation has been articulated as individual citizens defending their privacy and their personal domain against outside enemies and government overreach" (40).

  • military + domestic technology overlap or fluidity <—> pervasive ease with the notion of the home as a key site of national security

post-9/11 home

"the home finds its counterpart in the post-9/11 context of 'the homeland,' with the prevailing notion that both are sites under siege." (41)

  • defending the home and the desire to feel 'at home' = key elements of imperial policies of the U.S. gov post-9/11 (41)
  • "notions of innocence and comfort: the home that must be defended from external threat is articulated as a site of innocence" (41)

"the practices of paranoia and consumerism promote the idea that the American citizen exists in a state of innocence" (42)

culture of fear to culture of terror

  • advertising as forms of mourning and affirmation
  • NYT pulling from history of patriotic kitsch images in remaking Norman Rockwell paintings from World War II

transformation into "a post 'September 11' digitized signifier of sentiment, family security, and the nation state under threat" (Frascina) (64)

"an attempt to provide images of paternal comfort and reassurance: the image of a father figure connected to the world of politics via the newspaper who is a reassuring presence in a child's bedtime ritual (64)"

the consumerism of security

  • the selling of preparedness ... American home as locus of security

"culture of fear...seen in the public acquiescence not only to the war in Iraq, but also to Bush administration policies of torture and the incarceration of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay and in secret prisons without legal recourse or basic human rights" (71).

From Amy Kaplan... the concept of homeland security "is actually about seeing the home in a state of constant emergency" that ultimately "draws on comforting images of a deeply rooted past to legitimate modern forms of imperial power" (72).

"the use of the term homeland is clearly intended to evoke a comforting image of a place of security and belonging; at the same time, it affirms the capacity of the nation to stake out terrains elsewhere, to extend its sense of belonging to other terrains" (72).

DHS color coded system ... and guidelines for citizens

"On the eve of attacking Iraq, U.S. citizens were encouraged to use consumer products to occupy the status of the victim, in other words, to inhabit the position of the potentially attacked rather than the position of the attacker" (74).

  • selling the idea and means of preparedness
  • idea of the private citizen that must take security into their own hands

The "Executive Chute" ..."the life preserver of the sky" ...for corporate executives working in tall buildings ...omgeeeee

the performance of security

the idea of being "at home" is key to any imperialist project (89)

Tourists of History // notes