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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

After Terror: The Continued Negative Portrayals of Islamic and Middle Eastern Identities in Contemporary Media After the Death of Osama Bin Laden
by Alhumaydhi, Hadeel, M.A., Bowie State University, 2016, 89; 10251301
Abstract (Summary)

This thesis adds to the research in the scholarly fields of post colonialism and poststructuralism by analyzing how contemporary media after the death of Osama bin Laden continue to represent negatively Middle Eastern and Islamic peoples. The work explores the films Zero Dark Thirty and American Sniper, the fifth season of the television series Homeland, and online news media surrounding the Boston Marathon Bombings in order to identify new visual language and rhetorical strategies being employed to maintain the positioning of Middle Eastern and Islamic identities as the “Other.” When Osama bin Laden was assassinated in 2011, the longstanding explicit association of Muslims and Middle Eastern peoples to violence and terrorism due to the 9/11 attacks began to mutate in media representations, not only because of pushback from Islamic and Middle Eastern communities, but also due to more pointed criticism of racism and stereotyping. Authors of media representations shifted their strategies to become subtler and more nuanced in their maintenance of negative portrayals of the Other. Two common visual languages have been identified in this thesis as key characteristics of media that promote negative stereotypes of Muslims and Middle Eastern peoples: the humanization of American characters at the expense of dehumanizing Muslims and peoples from the Middle East, and the use of supposed objectivity as justification for the continued linking of terrorism and violence to Islam and the Middle East. The combination of these two representations are more dangerous than direct and explicit stereotypes, since they operate on justifications concerning knowledge production as introduced by Edward Said in Orientalism (1978). By describing the operation of these new strategies in negative media representations, this work hopes to encourage the continued engagement towards more balanced portrayals of Islam and the Middle East in the future, and prevent artificial and constructed stereotypes from transforming into fact.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kaloustian, David, Love, Monifa
Commitee: Kaloustain, David, Kamara, Gibreel, Love, Monifa
School: Bowie State University
Department: English and Modern Languages
School Location: United States -- Maryland
Source: MAI 58/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Multimedia Communications
Keywords: CNN, Islam, Orientalism, Said, Edward, Terrorism, bin Laden, Osama
Publication Number: 10251301
ISBN: 978-1-392-24137-0
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